July 24, 2003
Thank you for all the questions and suggestions in the first month of "Ask Mike" on utsports.com. Below are the answers to the questions selected this month.
Thank you for the tremendous response and Go Vols!
What are the odds for a club level in our stadium? Any thoughts to
a cover over the top or covering part? Thanks for the great job in the past
and looking forward to great years ahead. Go Vols!
Mike Hamilton: "Thanks for your questions regarding the potential for a club level in Neyland Stadium. We have recently had some preliminary discussions with a national architectural firm about the possibility of club seating in Neyland Stadium. As we continue to look at quality issues and how we might provide better service to our fans, we have received many requests for club level seating in Neyland Stadium. With the type structure we have and the age of the structure, a limited number of options exist. These preliminary plans have centered around adding 1,200-1,500 seats with some type of air-conditioned facility which will provide a pregame and halftime area with concessions or dining services. In the meantime, I have asked us to take a step back and look at what we want Neyland Stadium to look like overall as we approach the next quarter century and specifically as we approach Neyland Stadium's 100-year anniversary. As a result, hopefully, we will be initiating in the next several months a master plan for all of our facilities; but specifically, trying to take a long-term look at Neyland Stadium and how we can maintain the integrity of the structure and the tradition that it has brought to our athletic program while also preparing it for the future of Tennessee football. Neyland Stadium is a revered structure and the crown jewel in our athletic plant, and we need to treat it as such. Thanks again for your question and your support of Tennessee athletics."
I really like the idea of playing some football and basketball games
around the state. The game last year against Wyoming in Nashville was great.
We have also played some games at the Liberty Bowl (UT vs. UCLA in the 60's
was a classic). The Nashville Arena would be a great place to play a basketball
game each year. Please remember that there are fans that cannot get to Knoxville
very often. For that reason, and also the fact we are competing with pro sports
around the state, I think we need to move out of Knoxville from time to time.
Thanks for this forum.
Mt. Juliet, Tenn.
Mike Hamilton: "Thanks for your question about Tennessee athletics and specifically the possibility of playing football and/or basketball games in different spots around the state of Tennessee from time to time. Certainly, last year's game against Wyoming in Nashville was a great event and we were excited to have the opportunity to play in the Middle Tennessee area. This not only allowed us to have exposure in the Middle Tennessee area for our fans traveling from other spots, but also helped to solidify our presence as the statewide institution. We will continue to look for these opportunities as it appears prudent to do so. We have discussed on a couple of different occasions the possibility of playing basketball games in Nashville or Memphis in addition to the games we have scheduled against Vanderbilt and the University of Memphis. Thank you for your support of Tennessee athletics. Have a great summer."
Are there any plans in the foreseeable future concerning installing
some type of big screen for the fans seated in the south end zone of Neyland
Mike Hamilton: "Thanks for your recent email regarding a JumboTron in the north end zone. As you may or may not be aware, the JumboTron is a joint venture between Action Sports Media of Seattle, Washington and the University of Tennessee. The south end zone structure itself cost between $ 7.5-8 million. Based upon this expense, a new JumboTron in the north end zone is not in the immediate plans though we will continue to look at possibilities as revenue flow increases and the opportunity to add a new board arises. We will consider this in the context of our master plan for Neyland Stadium in ensuring that we can continue to provide the best atmosphere possible for our fans. Best wishes for a great summer."
When will Tennessee's new football uniforms be revealed? Is Tennessee
planning on new basketball uniforms for this season?
Mike Hamilton: "Thanks for your question regarding uniforms for the upcoming seasons. We are prepared to play the 2003 football season in new uniforms, which will be slightly different from the uniforms used in 2002. Essentially, we will be going back a couple of years to a uniform that was used previously. This involves a standard orange jersey at home and a white jersey on the road. The wide stripe that was on the uniforms last year will not be there any longer as we return to solid white pants. Basketball uniforms for the 2003-2004 season will be essentially the same for this year as we rotate basketball uniforms on a two-year basis. Thanks for your question and have a great summer."
What will you do to make the University of Tennessee a better place
for athletics and education, and also why did you want to be the athletic director?
Thanks and Good Luck!
Mike Hamilton: "Thanks for your recent email. We strive daily to increase the educational opportunities for our student-athletes. The addition of the Thornton Center approximately three years ago has had a significant impact on the performance of our student-athletes in all sports. Not only are they able to access advanced tutorial services and English and Learning Disability labs, but student-athletes receive counseling in the area of Champs/Life Skills to prepare them for what comes after their time here at the University of Tennessee. The Champs/Life Skills program is designed to involve student-athletes in community service, job fairs, resume building, and interview skills as well as in areas such as nutrition, financial planning, and the downsides of gambling and drugs.
"As new NCAA academic reform measures are implemented, this emphasis on the educational experience for our student-athletes will become even more critical. This responsibility ultimately lies with the student-athlete to attend classes and perform in the classroom. However, as athletic director, coaches and academic service support staff, we need to make sure that we provide the resources necessary for them to achieve this success. Dr. John Shumaker has issued a goal of 65 percent graduation rate for student-athletes by 2010. We take this strategic objective very seriously and are working toward that end.
"As to why I wanted to be athletic director, I have had a lifetime passion for athletics and specifically intercollegiate athletics. I believe there is nothing that exists that rallies a community or a state like a game here at the University of Tennessee. In addition, I am highly competitive and love to win, but also want to feel like I can make a difference in peoples' lives. Collegiate athletics provides me with that opportunity and I am excited about being the athletic director at the University of Tennessee.