Mike Hamilton will be replacing the retiring Doug Dickey July 1 as the Vols' next athletic director.
May 12, 2003
You're going to be stepping into some big shoes in replacing Doug Dickey.
Why did you want to become the Vols' next athletic director?
"I think when you enter any career, most people would say they want to maximize their potential and achieve the highest level they can in their career. Certainly, in college athletics, that is to be an athletic director in many ways.
"To be fortunate to work at a place like the University of Tennessee to begin with, I think is an accomplishment because of the type of athletic department that we have. To be given the opportunity to be the athletic director is certainly, second to none.
"Doug Dickey has a long track record of success in intercollegiate athletics. He is recognized as one of the best athletic directors in America. Certainly, from a consulting standpoint, I would not be a very smart guy, if I did not rely on him for advice, especially in crisis management situations.
"But the thing that people will see as we move forward is that I'm my own person. I have a clear vision of where I think the University of Tennessee athletic program will head, and I due time I think our fans will see that as well."
After a national 10-week search, you were President Shumaker and the
choice. What does that say about you and your credentials?
"I hope it says that it say that I have some track record of success during my tenure here. I think one of my strengths all along has been relationship building. Those relationships have buoyed my candidacy as athletic director. We've had success in growing the donor program and the revenue stream for the athletic program the last 11 years. That's not just Mike Hamilton. That's a testament to the team that we have here, and to the supporters we have out there."
How much do you think your experience at UT will help you to "hit the
ground running" as athletic director July 1?
" I think it's invaluable. To have been here 11 years and know a lot of the parties, not only on campus, but within our state. I have a pretty good idea of what the politics are in the state of Tennessee, who the players are and how to get things accomplished. I would not trade that for anything."
Competing for championships on an SEC and national level in all sports
is the goal at the University of Tennessee. In your opinion, what's the
AD's role in accomplishing those goals?
" I think it is two-phased. First, provide the vision for competing for championships, making sure our coaches and staff know what our goals are from a competitive standpoint. Second, to be the No. 1 supporter of that effort. What I mean by that is, to provide the resources our coaches and student-athletes need to accomplish those goals."
What do you think your strengths will be as an athletic director of a major
Division I institution?
" I feel like I have the respect of my peers, both here on the campus and nationally. I think that component will be critical of our success. Most importantly, I think I have the ability to build relationships and the vision to put my plan for the future into place.
"My management style is the old Tom Peters' style of `management by walking around.' I like to spend time with employees across all phases of the department to make sure I have a clear understanding of what everyone is doing on the micro-level, as well as the macro-level."
What issues on the horizon that you see as priorities for the next athletic
" Four or five things that I mentioned to the selection committee as we went through the process. One of things we want to do, is to define the strategic plan that I submitted to the committee through consult with Joan Cronan (women's AD), our coaches and our senior management team and give everyone, by the end of the summer, where we are going from a strategic standpoint about moving the department forward. I have some core values I think the athletic department operates under and some immediate things I think we need to do.
"The five things I identified to the committee I wanted to do were an expense and revenue control analysis, a master plan for all our facilities, effect change in public relations and customer service, changing our culture in that regard here within the athletic program. We need to have a long-range plan for the department itself, and lastly I want to do a staff audit, looking at all our staff members to make sure all of their assets are being used the right way to maximize the potential of the department."
Compliance and increasing eligibility requirements look to be big issues in
the future. How must you plan to address these issues?
" I think compliance and academic reform are two of the key things we have to continue to work at every day. Compliance is an every day task. Coach Dickey is fond of saying that `you have to be in everybody's business, everyday,' and I think that's true. If you're not in compliance with SEC and NCAA rules nothing else really matters. If you're not abiding by the rules, what does a championship really mean? It also has some filter-down effects. If you're not abiding by the rules, then do fans really want to participate with you? That has to be goal No. 1 every day. You have to be in compliance.
"Secondly, on the academic reform side, there is a trend in national athletic fronts to tighten academic standards. We are certainly going to be a party to that and have to decide how Tennessee will be competitive in that environment, and we will be competitive. It's not going to be a question of "if" we will be competitive in that environment. With the new standards of 20-40-60-80 coming into play actually lends itself of higher graduation rates. We have to be cognizant of the student-athletes that we recruit, cognizant of our mission as an institution and cognizant of our place as a competitive environment as an athletic program. History has shown that each time academic requirements have been heightened, the student-athletes and universities have typically risen to meet to those challenges. We have competitive people, so I'm confident that we will meet these new challenges as well."
Do you see any significant changes or improvements to some existing athletic
facilities in the near future?
" In addition to our current facilities plan that we are in the middle of right now, we have begun a very aggressive, but preliminary discussions about what's next for Thompson-Boling Arena in terms of possibilities of hospitality areas, luxury suites, facade changes and a variety of issues to be addressed to make sure that we are keeping that facility as one of best in the country. As far as Lindsey Nelson Stadium, there have been some underlying discussions about whether or not we are going to do further renovations there or possibly look at some other alternatives such as a downtown stadium. I would say right now that those discussion are very preliminary right now. We do realize that Lindsey Nelson Stadium is only 10 years old, but has fallen below some our competitors in the Southeastern Conference."
What changes do you see that could be made to Neyland Stadium?
" In my opinion, Neyland Stadium is the crown jewel. We're in discussions right now about possible club seating and a club area. We want to continue to enhance rest room and concession areas for our fans. We are competing against new facilities in Cincinnati and Nashville, and still a relatively new facility in Atlanta. You are competing for discretionary dollars, that's what we really talking about, from a fan's perspective. I think we need to address quality issues as much as we have quantity issues as we have in the past. My personal goal, as Neyland Stadium becomes 100 years old in 2020, we have a 100-year-old `new` stadium."
What is something that we don't know about Mike Hamilton?
" I'm a native of Western North Carolina. I'm the first of my immediate family to earn a college degree. I have an accounting degree and an MBA (masters of business administration). I have a very strong sense of faith and family. My wife and children are a vital part of my success and will continue to be. I plan to keep them as the key focus of my life as I also try to do what's best for the University of Tennessee.