That is what happens when you hire an inept Athletic Director and let him run the program in the ground for the last 8-9 years. You fire a veteran coach with a 70 % winning percentage after giving him a contract extension and a raise 4 months before you fire him with a 6 million dollar buyout. You bring in a hired gun for 1 year and pay his assistants a head coaching salary. He bolts after nine months and nearly destroying the football program. You cannot seem to find anybody interested even though it is a top 20 coaching job so you hire a unproven coach with 2 years experience and a losing record at a much smaller school that is not on the national stage. He is in his 3rd year and needs a break out year. You have to fire a damn good basketball coach for breaking the rules and give him almost a million dollar buyout while you fired your previous basketball coach 6 years prior and paid him a million dollar buyout. You fire a baseball coach you hired that did not pan out after paying him a buyout. You finally realize you have lost control of the job and the backers of the university have finally lost faith in the job you have done. You finally resign but not before giving yourself around 1.3 million in a buyout. The scenario I have described the last few years and dwindling attendance from your big money football program will have that kind of effect. Have I left anything out?
Welcome to Knoxville, Dave Hart.
Tennessee’s athletic director knew when he left Alabama that he would be going from a top football program to a struggling one. He might not have known, however, that he was also leaving the penthouse for the poorhouse.
WNML-AM/FM in Knoxville reports today that UT lost nearly $4 million on athletics in the last fiscal year. Using documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the station found that Tennessee’s reserve fund had dropped “to just under $2 million.” The reserve fund at Alabama, where Hart served as assistant AD to Mal Moore? More than $80 million.
“It is critical that our athletics program be financially healthy and that its budget is sustainable,” chancellor Jimmy Cheek said in a press release. “We are committed to having premier athletics programs at the University of Tennessee, and to do that, we must develop a financial model that pays for these programs while also building up the necessary reserve funds.”
One effort Tennessee is making on this front is the consolidation of its men’s and women’s programs. UT was one of the last schools in the country to have separate departments and a number of positions — and salaries — have already been dumped as the departments have been combined.