June 30, 2003
One era ends, while another begins.
Moments of transition are interesting things, sometimes sad, many times poignant, sometimes intriguing. After 18 years as the Vols' athletic director, today is Doug Dickey's final day on the job. His predecessor Mike Hamilton officially takes over the job tomorrow July 1 after being named to the post May 10.
There is a range of emotions present as you watch one career pass in review and watch another begin. One such moment was a standing ovation Dickey received at a recent Coca-Cola Big Orange Caravan stop in Memphis. Another was at a staff-wide meeting June 4 in Knoxville.
It was sometime after 9 a.m. at the aforementioned meeting that Dickey, AD since 1985, told the assembled staff: "I deeply appreciate everything you've done for the Athletics Department."
Calling it a true "team effort," Dickey talked for a few moments about the Athletics Department, its past, its present and its future. There were really no surprises as he discussed facilities, revenue streams and cash flow, and his thoughts about the people he had come to know and respect over the years. He discussed UT competing against schools like Ohio State, Texas, Florida and Georgia and the dynamics of supporting coaches and student-athletes in their quest for excellence. He talked about the ability of the department to put on events, calling it a "pretty good, fan-friendly place."
He noted later that VASF began with in 1986, with revenues of $1,436,271. This year, he added, the amount to date was $12,148,645. It's been a period of steady growth, peaking in the late 1990s, hitting $10 million in 1999, $12 million in 2000, $12.4 million in 2001, and $12.5 million in 2002.
He praised the donors to the Volunteer Athletic Scholarship Fund (VASF), the people, he said, "who make the program go.
"They've been the winning edge," he said. "We've been able to raise the money we need for scholarships and facilities and use the earnings to run the department.
"I have always been aware of the progress we have made through the VASF," he said, "and it's been thrilling to watch the growth generated by so many of you who have not only contributed, but have enrolled new members as well. The winning edge can come from a lot of places. For us, over the last 15 years, each of those VASF members has been the winning edge."
Under Dickey's watch, the Vols are one of just two league schools (Florida is the other) that captured at least one SEC title in each of the sports it competes. Tennessee won 24 league titles during Dickey's 18 years as AD.
Dickey spoke briefly about the great athletes and great moments, the thrilling moments of his career and the incredible dynamics that helped make the University of Tennessee a great place.
"We don't know where the next great athlete is coming from," he said, "but the bottom line is that it's still all about the teams and the student-athletes, how we manage the Tennessee scene. That's the important thing for us."
His last words to the staff as AD were vintage Doug Dickey: "I have
a comfort zone about what you've helped accomplish."