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News Sentinel: Dave Hart Puts Athletes First

John Adams has a story on UT Athletic Director Dave Hart, who spoke at the Big Orange Tipoff Club on Wednesday: UT AD, Dave Hart, puts athletes first

Adams wrote the following: 

Dave Hart applauded his predecessor for the University of Tennessee's enhanced athletic facilities, but there's still work to be done, he told the Big Orange Tipoff Club at its weekly luncheon Wednesday.

"We have some of the finest facilities in America," said Hart, who has served as UT's vice chancellor and athletic director for the last five months. "Mike Hamilton (the previous AD) did a great job)."

But Hart believes the Vols can do better by their student-athletes.

"When I toured Thompson-Boling (Arena) for the first time, I started at the top and walked down," he said. "It was first class in every respect.

"But when I went to our men's and women's locker rooms, I felt like I got in a time warp and went back to the mid-80s."

Updating those facilities will be a priority of Hart's, who stressed the welfare of UT's student-athletes throughout a brief speech. and a lengthy question-and-answer session that followed.

"When I talk to prospective student-athletes and their parents, not one time has a parent asked me, 'Mr. Hart, could you show us a sky box?'

"That's important. It's important to us because we value our donors and alumni."

But Hart said parents and guardians of recruits are much more interested in where the student-athletes will sleep, eat, train and receive academic support.

"Can I see the locker room?" they ask.

"I've always been very student-athlete centered," he said. ""Every decision we make, 'How does it impact them?'

"We're here representing the University of Tennessee because of the students. ... The priorities (for facilities) will be shifted to those areas that primarily affect the student-athletes."

He cited the volleyball program as an example in emphasizing the importance of improved conditions for the student-athletes.

"We need a place for volleyball to practice," he said. "When the hailstorm came through last year, the roof practically caved in at Stokely (Athletic Center). Since then, it has been a hunt-and-peck situation for them."

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