Former Tennessee Director of Athletics Mike Hamilton passed away Friday, UT announced in a statement. Hamilton was 60-years old and passed away after a battle with cancer.
“It’s a sad day for everyone here on Rocky Top with the loss of Mike Hamilton,” said Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Danny White. “Everyone who was fortunate to spend time with Mike knew how special the University of Tennessee was to him. He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mike’s family and loved ones.”
A Clemson graduate, Hamilton served as Tennessee’s Athletic Director from 2003-2011 after spending the previous nine years in the Vols’ athletic department. During his tenure, Hamilton made a number of important moves. Hamilton’s greatest feat was hiring University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee coach Bruce Pearl to succeed Buzz Peterson as Tennessee’s head basketball coach in 2005.
Hamilton’s hires on the football side were less successful. The North Carolina native served as athletic director when longtime head coach Phillip Fulmer was forced to resign. Hamilton hired Lane Kiffin as Fulmer’s predecessor before hiring Derek Dooley a year later when Kiffin bolted to Southern Cal.
Hamilton resigned from his post as athletic director in 2011 shortly after firing Pearl in the midst of an NCAA investigation that eventually earned Pearl a three-year show cause.
Tennessee had success across its athletic department under Hamilton’s leadership, six times finishing in the top 16 of the NACDA Directors’ Cup.
Hamilton moved to the private sector following his tenure as Tennessee’s Athletic Director serving as president of U.S. operations for Blood:Water Mission— a Nashville based nonprofit. Most recently, Hamilton served as Learfield’s president.
Hamilton leaves behind his wife Beth and five adopted children— sons Matthew, Nate, and Kiya, and daughters Madison and Kalu.