There’s been plenty of discussion about the state of UT athletics over the past few months, and one ranking that came out on Thursday paints a pretty rough picture for what’s happened so far this academic calendar year.
The NACDA (National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics) put out the Learfield Directors’ Cup Fall Rankings, and Tennessee checked in near the bottom – tied for 113th nationally and alone in last among SEC schools with 50 total points, which are awarded based on each institution’s finish in NCAA Championships.
Tennessee doesn’t field teams in some of the fall sports such as field hockey, water polo and men’s soccer, so that partially explains the low ranking. But none of the teams that Tennessee did have in the fall – football, women’s volleyball, women’s soccer or men’s and women’s cross country – were able to make much of a championship run in their respective sports.
The Vols should have several opportunities to improve the rankings in the winter/spring with teams such as softball and indoor track set to potentially make title runs. But some of the more major winter/spring sports – women’s basketball, men’s basketball and baseball all have shaky outlooks right now. So it might be difficult for the Vols to vault up these rankings by the end of the 2016-17 year, thought they’ll have the opportunity to get out of the SEC cellar.
Change is coming at the top. Tennessee AD Dave Hart is set to retire in the summer, and the search for his replacement is underway. Many fans have been quick to point out that Chattanooga AD David Blackburn, who is believed to be one of the leading candidates for the Vols, finished above Tennessee in the fall rankings with the Mocs coming in tied for 107th nationally despite a substantially lower budget than UT.
You can view the full fall rankings here.