As you read this column, June has faded into July and it's only a month until football practice begins. It's not that long until football season begins for real Aug. 30, at 3 p.m. against Fresno State at Neyland Stadium, and I can't wait!
July 1, 2003, also marked the official retirement of Coach Dickey and my assumption of the tremendous responsibility of men's athletic director at The University of Tennessee. The transition over the last couple months has provided an important opportunity for me to look closely at all facets of the way UTAD operates to see where we can do better.
I've had the opportunity to meet with our entire staff, visit one-on-one with our senior staff, and gather formal and informal feedback from many of our donors, season ticket holders and fans. It has been a great experience that reinforces my belief and confidence in Tennessee.
In the coming months, I want to discuss in depth each of the five core values that surround the underlying principle of the student-athlete being at the center of everything we do.
Core Value #1: We will abide by all SEC and NCAA rules
Just as we seek to be leaders in athletic competition, we should expect our institution, alumni and fans to be leaders in compliance for the SEC and NCAA. As has been demonstrated recently by other schools, recruiting violations, extra provided benefits, improper contacts, gambling involvement, etc., all can quickly ruin our reputation, cost student-athletes' eligibility, seriously damage the financial standing of the department, and hinder the positive momentum we all work so hard to create.
As a reminder, we have several men and women's department staff members who
work in compliance everyday. Please count Malcolm McInnis, Kevin Avery and/or
Donna Thomas as resources whenever you have questions about rules or specific
or potential situations involving prospects, recruits or current student-athletes. "Ask
before you Act" and call 865-974-3871 with questions. We will win with
As the summer continues, our staff is continuing to work on developing our strategic plan for Tennessee Athletics. We excited about the progress in construction on the McKenzie Athletics Center is underway next to the Neyland-Thompson Center.
We are proud to announce that STEP UP- The Campaign for UT Athletic Facilities is just $2 million away from the $44.25 million overall goal. I am thankful for each donor who has participated so far and equally grateful for the consideration of more fans in making pledges and gifts to this historic effort over the next several months.
There are more great moments on the horizon for the University of Tennessee and its athletics programs. With your help, those moments will be numerous and the stuff of which dreams are made.
Each of you is the reason for our existence and I look forward to us serving you better in the days and weeks to come. Thank you for your support.
Expect to win!