The University of Tennessee has finally landed a new athletic director. Not only did they finally find their man, but he’s got a long track record at major programs, including one inside the SEC.
But some Vol fans aren’t going to be as happy about the hire as you might think.
Dave Hart — an Alabama graduate — has accepted Tennessee’s offer and will leave the University of Alabama athletic department where he has served as the day-to-day CEO of the program since 2008. Technically, Mal Moore is still Alabama’s top athletic administrator overseeing funding and facilities.
Hart is 62, so it’s doubtful that we hill head to Knoxville only to return to Tuscaloosa when Moore (72) retires.
When word leaked out last week that Hart was a top candidate for the Tennessee job, a sizable portion of the UT fanbase voiced their displeasure with the idea of Tennessee hiring someone with Bama ties. The outcry was so loud in fact that some Knoxville media outlets have reported that UT’s search committee became torn over Hart’s selection.
On paper, Hart appears to be a solid hire for the Vols. He served as East Carolina’s AD for 12 years before moving to Florida State for 12 more years. Pushed out after a power struggle with FSU president TK Wetherell, Hart landed back at Alabama where he played basketball in the late-60s and early-70s.
In reality, Hart will now have to win over some fans whose blood runs so orange that it clouds their decision-making. If a man is the best hire for a job, where he went to school shouldn’t matter. In fact, if his hire hurts a rival, that should probably be viewed as a positive.
But then again, there are a few UT fans who’ve taken to talk shows and messageboards to suggest that Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek — who moved to UT from Florida — is undercutting the Vol program from the inside as part of a UF conspiracy.
Hopefully sanity will prevail in Hart’s case.