Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek announced earlier in the summer that he will be stepping down when his replacement is found.
Now Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Dave Hart will follow him out the door, effective June 30, 2017, Tennessee confirmed on Thursday morning via a press release.
“As I thought about finishing this job well and how extremely proud I am of what everyone in our department has contributed collectively to get us to where we are today, I decided that this was a good time to set a target to wrap up my career as a Director of Athletics,” Hart said.
“Our University will name a new Chancellor at some point prior to the conclusion of the academic year which has just begun. This decision will allow that individual to select his or her own person to this leadership role and allow me to lead us through what promises to be a very exciting upcoming year in many respects. The positive energy is tangible, not only in our building, but among Volunteer fans everywhere. That is very gratifying to witness.”
Hart, who came to Tennessee in 2011 after 12 years as the AD at Florida State and three years as executive director of athletics at Alabama, said this move won’t necessarily signify the end of his professional career, only his time as the AD at UT.
“My intent is to retire from the role as Athletics Director on June 30, not to retire in the purest sense of the word,” he said. ” There will be another challenge out there. I plan to continue to assist and inspire people in some manner moving forward. Right now, I am excited about what this year has in store for us on Rocky Top.”
Hart has overseen several noticeable improvements in UT’s athletic department, albeit not without a fair share of controversy.
Some of his notable accomplishments include facility improvements across several sports, an increase in stability in the football program under his hire Butch Jones, the hiring of Rick Barnes in basketball, a switch from adidas to Nike, along with financial and academic improvement across the board.
However, his time will also be remembered for the divisive decision to eliminate the Lady Vols moniker from all female sports except for basketball, a Title IX lawsuit that was settled out of court and his hiring of former basketball coach Donnie Tyndall, who was fired in less than a year amidst an NCAA investigation into his actions at a prior institution that eventually led to a 10-year show cause for Tyndall.
Cheek touted the positives of Hart’s tenure in the release on Wednesday.
“Dave’s greatest accomplishment is making UT a student-athlete-focused department,” said the outgoing chancellor. “His drive for comprehensive excellence has touched all facets of athletics. Our student athletes have the highest overall grade point average in the history of the program, exceeding a 3.0 and fundraising is having a record year. He has restructured the department for greater efficiency and created a long-term sustainable financial model.”
“Dave has worked with our coaches to make us nationally competitive. He has focused on compliance and doing things the right way in the class room and on the field. His work and determination have put UT sports in a strong position for the future.”