KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Tennessee introduced Dave Hart as its
new vice chancellor and athletic director on Monday night.
Hart has worked since August 2008 at his alma mater Alabama, one
of the Volunteers' top rival programs, where he served as executive
director of athletics assisting Alabama athletic director Mal
Moore. Previously he spent 12 years as Florida State's athletic
"I want this to be perfectly clear: I am absolutely and totally
committed to the University of Tennessee," Hart said at a news
conference Monday night. "I wanted to say that early because I
don't want you to trip over each other to ask the Alabama
Under a memorandum of understanding, Tennessee will pay Hart a
base salary of $575,000 in his first year of a six-year contract
and may qualify for a 3 percent increase of his base salary with
each passing year. He will also receive $150,000 annually for media
appearances and a $50,000 retention bonus each year.
Tennessee had been looking for a new athletic director since
Mike Hamilton resigned in June in the wake of a lengthy NCAA
investigation into the Volunteers basketball and football programs
that resulted in a self-imposed two-year probation for the
Hart said the NCAA's final ruling on Tennessee's case, which was
announced Aug. 31, had no bearing on his decision to accept the
UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said he and the search committee
responsible for hiring Hart sought someone who had experience as an athletic director at a major university.
"We're on the right path upwards," Cheek said. "What we've
got to do is look at our future, and I think our future on the
academics side and the athletics side is very positive, and I think
having this last piece, the new vice chancellor and director of
athletics is a very critical part."
Hart said he's never sought to leave any job he's had but has
been interested in the Tennessee, Alabama, Florida State and
Georgia programs ever since his time as East Carolina's athletic
director from 1987 to 1995. His son, Rick Hart, is the athletic
director at Chattanooga and his father, Dave Hart Sr., was an
athletic director at Missouri and a commissioner of the Southern
Moore said he anticipated Hart would have opportunities to again
become an athletic director when he hired him three years ago.
"When this opportunity came along I had mixed feelings, just as
I do now," Moore said in a statement. "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."
The 62-year-old Hart also has advised the Atlantic Coast
Conference and played basketball for the Crimson Tide's C.M.
He left Florida State after he was told by the school's
president, T.K. Wetherell, that his contract would not be renewed
the following year. His departure coincided with an academic
scandal that resulted in the vacating of wins by the Seminoles
football program and four years of probation.
Hart said his decision to leave was made before the scandal was
uncovered by the university and was instead the result of
disagreements with Wetherell.
"The provost at Florida State and I are good friends," Cheek
said, "and his explanation of this was that it was an academic
matter affecting students at FSU, and obviously athletes. It was
not an athletic matter that influenced academics."
Hart eventually will be the first director to oversee a combined
department of men's and women's sports at Tennessee. Since Hamilton resigned as the men's director, former women's AD Joan Cronan has been serving as the interim director over both the men's and women's departments.
Cronan will continue as women's athletic director until June 30
to help with the transition of combining the two departments. After
that she will work as a senior adviser to Hart and Chancellor Jimmy
Cheek for two years.
"I have an ultimate respect for him as a leader and as a person
who can tackle things," Cronan said. "He's also a very
compassionate person, so I have no qualms about him leading our
athletics program forward."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)