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Notes from the Chancellor » Dave Hart: UT’s new VC of Athletics and AD

Dave Hart: UT’s new VC of Athletics and AD

When we commenced the search for our new athletic director, we said we wanted it to move swiftly, but we wanted to make sure we brought the right person on board. Our search took three months, and we’re confident that Dave Hart is exactly what we need at the helm of our athletics department.

Dave began his new role last month and has hit the ground running as our new vice chancellor and director of athletics.

During our search, everyone I called about Dave said the same thing: His character, his integrity, and his honesty are superb.

He has twenty years of experience as athletic director at two major institutions, East Carolina University and Florida State University. He is a seasoned administrator. He knows how to manage and lead athletic programs, coaches, and staff. He has a strong commitment to academics. He has seen many national championships, and he wants to see a lot more right here in Tennessee.

Dave is committed to the University of Tennessee for the long term. He’s a visionary and a true leader in the industry. He has a passion and drive to lead.

During the press conference we held to introduce Dave as our new AD, he was asked what he’s learned about leadership and what he hopes to bring to UT.

His answer is in perfectly in sync with what we believe:

“Athletics has never been, should not be, and never will be the most important thing on a university campus, but it is absolutely the most visible element within the university structure,” he said. “With that comes accountability and responsibility from everybody who touches the athletics department at the University of Tennessee because that is how people form their impression and come to the image that they want to apply to the university. Unfortunately, it's not through the many great things the university has going on in many cases, but it is driven by the image that is demonstrated by the Department of Athletics."

Dave comes to us with an impressive résumé. A scholarship athlete in basketball, he graduated from the University of Alabama in 1971 and then stayed on for another year to earn his master’s degree and serve as a graduate assistant for legendary basketball coach C.M. Newton. After several years teaching and coaching at the high school level, Dave joined East Carolina University in 1983. He became ECU’s director of athletics in 1987, where he remained until he was named athletics director at Florida State in 1995. He stayed at Florida State until 2007 and also worked as an adviser to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Then, in 2008, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Alabama, to become executive director of athletics.

Dave has also collected a variety of prestigious awards during his career. He received the Robert R. Neyland Award from the Knoxville Quarterback Club, honoring lifetime achievement in college athletics. The award is named for UT’s legendary head coach and first athletic director. Hart also has been named by his colleagues as the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Athletic Director of the Year for the Southeast Region in both 2000 and 2005, one of a few select individuals to receive the honor multiple times. And he received the Athletics Directors' Award for advancing the quality and progress of student-athletes and the athletics program while at Florida State, and in 2008, he received the James J. Corbett Award, the highest honor bestowed by NACDA.

Athletics administration runs in Hart’s family. His father, Dave Hart Sr., was athletic director at Louisville and Missouri before finishing his career as the commissioner of the Southwest Conference. Hart’s son, Rick, worked as an athletics administrator at the University of Oklahoma and is now the athletic director at UT Chattanooga.

As we welcome Dave, we also want to say a special thank you to Joan Cronan, who has served as UT's interim vice chancellor of athletics since Mike Hamilton’s departure in early June. Joan will continue as women's athletics director until June 30, 2012. She will then transition to a role as senior adviser to Hart and me for two years.

To view the press conference where I introduced Dave Hart as our new vice chancellor of athletics and athletic director, see Chancellor Jimmy Cheek introduces Dave Hart as new Tennessee AD.