Tennessee Football: Will New AD Dave Hart Doom or Bless the Vols?
University of Tennessee, Chancellor Jimmy Cheek went out and found himself a brand new athletic director with a really long resume. Not only did Cheek thumb his nose at candidates that were associated with Tennessee athletics he went out and hired a man from SEC arch-nemisis Alabama.
So, will this bode well for the Big Orange Illuminati, the administration and most importantly will it help the football program? But, before you read the next slide consider this question.
Looking at Alabama's success, would it really be so bad to bring in one of their athletic professionals?
Not Just a Fundraiser
Before you do anything you have to consider his resume, below is an excerpt from his bio on the UOA webpage. http://www.rolltide.com/genrel/hart_dave00.html
During his tenure at Florida State, Hart negotiated unprecedented multi-million dollar contracts for the department totaling in excess of $175 million while planning and guiding the development and implementation of an extensive and comprehensive facilities master plan for athletics which totaled more than $150 million.He initiated a multi-faceted Student Development/Life Skills program for all student-athletes at FSU, which was recognized nationally as a "Program of Excellence" by the Division I-A Athletics Directors' Association.He spearheaded the rewriting of the department's mission statement to put the student-athlete at the core of everything the athletics department prioritized in its goal to build comprehensive excellence throughout the many components of the department.
Hart took a leadership role in FSU athletics department's first major Capital Campaign, in concert with Seminole Boosters, which raised over 75 million dollars for athletics facilities. A second capital campaign is ongoing to endow athletics scholarships for all sports at Florida State.Within the Facilities Master Plan, the Soccer/Softball facility was the first new facility to be built and remains one of the nation's finest.Major renovations to the Tennis and Volleyball facilities were also completed. The state-of-the-art Golf Facility and Teaching Center and the Basketball Training Center are among the nations very best.The Dick Howser Baseball Stadium and the new Moore Athletics Center, have few, if any, peers.A new aquatics facility and completion of the renovation to the Mike Long Track building were finalized in 2008. While at FSU, Hart made many key head coaching hires including the hiring of FSU's first African American basketball coach.Under Hart's direction, FSU formalized a varsity club to encourage the participation of former student-athletes in athletics department activities and a new focus was placed on the growth of women's athletics at FSU. That commitment was reflected in the increased allocation of funding, competitive success and facility improvements.Also during Hart's tenure, FSU became home to the inaugural National Student-Athlete of the Year, a State of Florida Woman of the Year recipient and a Rhodes Scholar.A record number of FSU student-athletes made the ACC Academic Honor Roll, were recipients of NCAA post-graduate scholarship awards and obtained degrees.Student-athlete community service involvement became a priority under Hart with student-athletes contributing over 5,000 hours in community outreach projects.
Should the Vols Be Worried...Again?
Here is a summary of an AP press release first printed by the The Florida Times Union in 2009.
It has been considered as one of the darkest shadows that has ever fell on the Seminoles. Under Hart's watch Bobby Bowden had to vacate 12 wins from 2007-2008 for utilizing players that were academically ineligible, two out of three losing seasons in 34 years of coaching. While Hart was never implicated for any responsibility in the matter it was announced early in 2008 that FSU president TK Wetherell would not renew Hart's contract. Wetherell informed the media that the decision for Hart to not be renewed was made several months earlier and disclosure was withheld at his request in lieu of the NCAA violations. Wetherell went on to say that other staffers were terminated or resigned from their positions, but Hart was not included in them.
Overall, I don't think Bama or the ACC would have hired him on the spot if there were any question in regards to him bringing a load of NCAA baggage with him.
Author memo: It should also be noted that FSU also experienced a vast amount of renovations, entrepreneurial contracts, external business ventures and several coaches and staffers that prospered during Hart's tenure.
Hart Says He Is Committed to Tennessee
If you don't want to watch the clip, I'll save you a few minutes.
Hart uses Nick Saban's association with Kent St. as an alum and the fact that he didn't show his old school any mercy in Bama's 48-7 beat-down season opener, as an analogy of how he will approach his passion and dedication to Tennessee. It seems heartfelt and genuine, so let's wait and see. Vol fans are used to the wait and see approach, so this should be easy by now.
Experience to Grow On?
If you actually watched the entire clip on the previous page you now know that Dave Hart has athletics administration in his blood. For those of you who didn't, no big deal. Hart's dad was an AD at Louisville and Mizzou, and his son is currently the AD at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. And, no, just because your daddy or son does something does not equate a success in anything, but at the very least he knows what the job entails.
On another note: Dave Hart hints that his son will probably be the better AD of himself and his father. Is this a subtle hint that we could be seeing a Hart succeed a Hart in Knoxville? I know it is silly to speculate, but I mean GEEZ he's already in the UT family, and now his dad runs the whole show. Wouldn't you be a little curious to see how that plays out? And, he wouldn't be the first father to build an empire that his son could inherit. I'm betting if he hires his son to fill any role as an assistant in Knoxville then my theory holds water.
"Gentlemen, it is better to have died a small boy than to fumble this football."—John Heisman
The analogy here is Hart just got handed the keys to an entire athletic program, so don't screw it up. The general rule for this job is you leave it better than you found it. It didn't work for him at FSU, but was that his fault? Many say no, but it was on his watch.
At Bama he has and could do no wrong. He has won accolades galore among his peers that would strain a strong shelf, and is praised still by his former boss UOA AD Mal Moore for his job. http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/09/alabama_ad_mal_moore_wishes_ri.html
Mal Moore had this to say about his assistant:
"When we hired Dave three years ago, we anticipated the possibility that he would eventually have opportunities such as this one," Moore said in a written statement.
"When this opportunity came along I had mixed feelings, just as I do now. While I am very proud and pleased for Dave and his wife, Pam, for the opportunity they have been given, I also hate to lose him.
"He's a gifted administrator who has done an excellent job for our athletic department and our university. I know I speak for all of us in Alabama Athletics in wishing Dave all the best at Tennessee."
As a Vol student, fan, or player it's important to know that Hart was not just an assistant AD. For the most part Hart ran the day-to-day operations of Alabama athletics for Mal Moore. That is no small feat. I say give him some room, and hope Coach Dooley finishes with a winning season. That could develop into another mess that nobody, and I mean nobody, even wants to consider at this junction.