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June 7, 2011

A look back at Hamilton's tenure

It came as a surprise to many that on June 7 Mike Hamilton announced that he was stepping down as athletics director. After holding out the past 12 months during an NCAA investigation, Hamilton left on his own terms today just days before he and other UT representatives meet with college athletics governing body in Indianapolis.

But, for all the turmoil Hamilton has seen the program through the past several years, there were also bright spots, including fundraising reaching a new and unprecedented high at Tennessee.

Here's a timeline of events, both good and bad in nature, of Mike Hamilton's tenure as Tennessee's director of athletics.

The Timeline of Hamilton's Tenure
May 10, 2003 After spending a decade in different areas of UT's athletic department, Mike Hamilton is promoted to UT Director of Athletics after a ten week search. Hamilton is pegged to replace Doug Dickey. One of the big reasons Hamilton was promoted was because of his prowess as a fundraiser. "I have been on development calls with Mike and I have seen him in action," then University President John Shumaker offered. "I have been impressed with his ability to make the sale and close the deal. But he is also passionately concerned about student athletes and their welfare. That is something that often gets lost in the storm of business and balance sheets. You should also not ignore that he loves this University and he loves this program. He can slide in there very easily and take over without a high learning curve." According to his bio on UTSports.com, athletics has raised more than $413 million since he arrived at UT from Wake Forrest in 1992.
Nov. 2004 The athletic department and Hamilton unveil the master plan for the Neyland Stadium. It originally calls for five different phases. To date, three of the five phases have been completed, including improved concourses, a new Gate 21 plaza, the East Club addition, the new Lauricella Center for Letter Winners, the new Stokley Family Media Room, improvements to the Peyton Manning Locker Complex, the Tennessee Terrace, a brick and iron façade along the north and west exterior and a statue of General Neyland.
March 14, 2005 In Hamilton's first major coaching move since becoming the athletics director almost two years prior, Hamilton fires UT basketball coach Buzz Peterson after four seasons as the head coach.
March 28, 2005 After the dismissal of Peterson, Hamilton hires Bruce Pearl as men's basketball coach. Pearl arrived as UT's coach after serving the same position at Wisconsin-Milwaukee for four seasons.
Nov. 30, 2006 The University along with Mike Hamilton announced plans for the renovation of Thompson-Boling Arena. The updates included new black seats, a center-hung scoreboard and 32 new suites. The total cost of the two-phase renovations is $35 million, according to UTSports.com.
Jan. 29, 2007 UT unveils plans for yet another renovation, this time Lindsey Nelson Stadium is the facility receiving the facelift.
June 3, 2007 Hamilton fires baseball coach Rod Delmonico after Delmonico had been the head coach of the Vols for 18 seasons and directed the Vols to the College World Series three times during his tenure.
June 21, 2007 Hamilton makes his second major hire at Tennessee and appoints Todd Raleigh the head coach at Tennessee. Raleigh took over the program after eight years of head coaching experience all at Western Carolina.
Nov. 3, 2008 Tennessee announces that the 2008 season would be the last under Phillip Fulmer. Hamilton and others decide that Tennessee football needs to go in a different direction after Fulmer has led Tennessee to disappointing seasons since 2005. Hamilton is blamed for signing off on a contract extension before the 2008 season that guaranteed Fulmer a $6 million buyout if he were to be fired.
Dec. 1, 2008 The beginning of a rocky 13 month marriage between Tennessee and new head coach Lane Kiffin. Hamilton said then he hired Kiffin because, "He's energetic, charismatic, consumed with recruiting and has a lifelong love affair with football."
Spring, 2009 The NCAA begins to look into Bruce Pearl's basketball program and whether he and his assistant coaches had impermissible contact with prospective student-athletes.
Dec. 2009The New York Times reports a story that Tennessee football is being investigated by the NCAA focused on the use of Orange Pride hostesses. Sports Illustrated then breaks a story containing a photograph of two Orange Pride hostesses with prospective student-athletes after their high school football game in South Carolina in September 2009. All this occurs after Kiffin had already cited for several NCAA secondary violations in his short tenure on at Tennessee.
Jan. 12, 2010 Lane Kiffin lets Hamilton know he is leaving Tennessee to become the head coach at USC. Hamilton gives the interim position to Kippy Brown and begins a whirlwind search for the next Vol football coach.
Jan. 15, 2010 A sleepy-eyed Hamilton introduces Derek Dooley as Tennessee's next head coach. A stark contradiction to Kiffin, Dooley presents himself as a man of integrity after Kiffin violates several NCAA rules in his brief tenure as UT's coach.
June 14, 2010 Bruce Pearl and his assistants are interviewed by the NCAA concerning impermissible contact and about a photograph taken at Pearl's home during a barbecue with two prospects while on unofficial visits, which is against NCAA rules. Pearl and his staff mislead NCAA investigators.
June 19-26, 2010 After discussing the situation with UT athletics director Hamilton and other officials on campus regarding the lies to the NCAA investigators, Pearl and his staff come clean to the NCAA about their knowledge of the photo and the whereabouts of all parties in the photo.
August 2010 NCAA investigators return to Tennessee and conduct more interviews for their investigation into Pearl's program.
Sept. 9, 2010 After weeks, perhaps even a couple of months of investigation and researching the matter, Volquest.com and ESPN are the first media outlets to report that the NCAA is conducting a wide-ranging scope into the Vols' basketball program.
Sept. 10, 2010Tennessee receives its Letter of Inquiry from the NCAA and during an emotional press conference and flanked by both Hamilton and Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, Pearl admits misdeeds and UT imposes unprecedented self-imposed financial and recruiting penalties. Pearl will forfeit $1.5 million in salary, including a hefty $1.1 million over the first two years of the five-year reduction. Assistants also are docked 25 percent of their pay for one year. UT officials proclaim their insistence to stand by Pearl.
Feb. 23, 2011 Tennessee receives its Letter of Allegations from the NCAA and it's a day of great news for Tennessee football, which thanks to the Herculean efforts of David Blackburn dodges significant trouble from the NCAA. Basketball, however, isn't as lucky. Vols hoops is hit with approximately 10 major charges, and this is the first public knowledge of Pearl's alleged bump violation. The story gains national traction that Pearl supposedly committed a recruiting violation within days of his tearful press conference.
March 16, 2011 Hamilton interview airs on WMNL with Jimmy Hyams, where for the first time Hamilton publicly acknowledges that it isn't a given that Pearl will return next season. Hamilton receives significant criticism for doing the interview just days before Tennessee is to play in its NCAA first round game against Michigan. The Vols are blown out by Michigan two days later, 75-45.
March 21, 2011 Pearl is officially fired by Tennessee.
March 27, 2011 Cunzo Martin is officially hired as Tennessee basketball coach. Cheek said the hire was all Hamilton and that he stands behind Hamilton moving forward.
May 23, 2011 Hamilton terminates the contract of baseball coach Todd Raliegh and has terminated three coaches in the three major sports of football, baskeball, and baseball.
June 7, 2011 Hamilton announces he's resigning as AD of UT. Hamilton approached Cheek the week prior at the SEC meetings in Destin, Fla., about resigning and Cheek accepted.


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