The University of Tennessee named Dave Hart vice chancellor and director of athletics on Sept. 5, 2011. Hart had previously held leadership roles in athletics administration at East Carolina University, Florida State University and the University of Alabama.
"Under Dave's leadership, we are making huge strides toward achieving comprehensive excellence," UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said. "Our student-athletes have broken records with their academic performance, and their competitive spirit will drive them to win championships."
Among the many challenges and goals being addressed in the half-decade of his tenure at Tennessee, Hart has led efforts which included the following:
- Restructured the athletics department to provide for greater efficiency.
- Hired the following head coaches: Butch Jones (football), Brian Pensky (soccer), Rick Barnes (men's basketball) and Holly Warlick (women's basketball), Beth Alford-Sullivan (track & field/cross country) while also naming Matt Kredich to lead a combined swimming and diving program.
- Named Dr. Joe Scogin to lead the Thornton Student Life Center. Dr. Scogin's efforts in reorganizing the Thornton Center have had an immediate impact, resulting in unprecedented academic success for Tennessee student-athletes.
- Launched the Campaign for Comprehensive Excellence, creating an opportunity for donors to partner with the athletic program toward achievement of this collective goal, prioritizing capital projects.
- As a part of the Campaign, Hart was instrumental in the planning, fundraising, and completion of two capital projects: Pat Summitt Plaza, which honors the greatest coach in basketball history, and the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio, a state-of-the-art production studio second to none in the nation.
- Redefined the athletic department Mission, Vision and Values to focus on the student-athlete.
- Created a new administrative structure going through a "right-sizing" effort in conjunction with the implementation of combining the men and women's athletic programs into one while setting a direction and vision for all units within the department.
- The Compliance Department has been reorganized, and capital projects have been reprioritized to dovetail into a strategic plan for the future.
- Policies and procedures have been strengthened throughout the department, as has overall communication.
- Fan experience enhancement options at Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena have been prioritized.
"It is an honor to serve in this leadership role at the University of Tennessee," Hart said. "Our mission to inspire student-athletes to achieve comprehensive excellence in competition, the classroom and community service. I am proud of the positive energy that our staff, coaches and student-athletes are generating. I am optimistic about what is on the horizon. The future is bright for Tennessee Athletics."
In December 2012, Hart hired Butch Jones from the University of Cincinnati as the head football coach at the University of Tennessee. Since assuming his new role, Jones has brought a renewed sense of energy and optimism, including a win over top 10-ranked South Carolina in October 2013 and signing a consensus top five recruiting class in February 2014. After Jones second led the Vols to a TaxSlayer Bowl win in 2014 -- UT's first bowl win since the 2010 season -- Hart extended Jones' contract through the 2020 campaign. In 2015, Jones led the Vols to a 9-4 record, a 45-6 win over No. 13 Northwestern in the Outback Bowl, and a final AP ranking of No. 22.
Hart also hired Holly Warlick to follow the legendary Pat Summitt as the head coach of Tennessee's women's basketball program. Warlick led the Lady Vols to SEC championships in each of her first three seasons and Elite Eight appearances in three of her first four.
In 2012-13, Tennessee also won national championships in three events and finished third nationally in women's swimming and diving under Matt Kredich, the former UT women's coach whom Hart chose to lead a combined men's and women's swimming and diving program. Hart also hired Brian Pensky to lead the Tennessee soccer program, and the squad made an NCAA Tournament appearance in Pensky's first season. The men's basketball program also reached the Sweet 16 in March 2014.
Prior to the 2015-16 basketball season, Hart handed decorated coach Rick Barnes the reins of the Volunteer men's basketball program. Barnes arrived on Rocky Top with 604 career wins -- the ninth-most among then-active basketball coaches -- and 22 NCAA Tournament appearances.
In five years at Tennessee, Hart has worked with Cheek and Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administration Chris Cimino to build a long-term financial model for Tennessee Athletics.
In conjunction with Provost Susan Martin, the hiring of Dr. Joe Scogin as assistant provost and senior associate athletics director to lead the Thornton Athletics Student Life Center has led to excellent classroom performance by UT student-athletes. Tennessee student-athletes have posted five consecutive semesters with a 3.00 GPA or above, with 60 percent of all student-athletes doing so in the Spring of 2015. That same semester, the men's basketball team posted its highest GPA in recorded history.
The Spring 2013 GPA of 3.05 was the highest combined GPA for UT student-athletes all-time. Also, in Spring 2014, four sports posted their highest GPA in team history, and 58 percent of student-athletes posted a 3.0 GPA or higher. In the most recent Spring semester, a record number of student-athletes graduated.
In July 2015, Tennessee announced its VOLeaders Academy, a year-long leadership development program in partnership with the Center for Leadership & Service and the Center for Sport, Peace & Society. Select student-athletes commit to the volunteer spirit by concluding their participation in the Leadership Academy with a service trip to Brazil in Summer 2016, just a month before the summer Olympics begins in Rio de Janeiro.
Comprehensive athletic success exemplified Hart's tenure as the Florida State athletic director, as a combined 35 ACC Championships were won by 10 different Seminole athletic programs during his tenure. Additionally, the Seminole football team won nine ACC titles and appeared in four national championship games, winning the 1999 BCS National Championship with a Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech.
The men's outdoor track and field team also claimed two national championships, while the baseball program appeared in the College World Series five times and the softball program won nine ACC titles and played in the Women's College World Series. During Hart's last year at FSU, the Seminoles finished 15th in the Directors' Cup, an all-time high for the institution at that time.
Additionally, during Hart's three years at Alabama, the Crimson Tide football team claimed the 2009 BCS National Championship, and the individual athletic teams posted eight combined top-three finishes nationally from 2009-11. Hart has more than 25 years of service as a director of athletics.
Highly respected as a visionary and industry leader, Hart's career has featured service as the president of both the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and the Division IA Athletics Directors' Association. A former recipient of the Robert R. Neyland Award honoring lifetime achievement, Hart has also been named by his colleagues as the Athletic Director of the Year for the Southeast Region in both 2000 and 2005, one of a few select individuals to receive the honor multiple times.
During his 13 years at Florida State, Hart negotiated unprecedented, multi-million dollar contracts for the department totaling in excess of $175 million and devised and executed an extensive and comprehensive facilities master plan for athletics eclipsing the $150 million mark. Hart initiated a multi-faceted Student Development/Life Skills program for all student-athletes at FSU, an endeavor recognized nationally as a "Program of Excellence" by the Division I-A Athletics Directors' Association.
"Dave is as good an athletic director as there is in the country," legendary Florida State Head Football Coach Bobby Bowden said. "He's as sharp of an AD as I've been around in 57 years. He knows what's important, and he's a builder."
In recognizing Hart's position within intercollegiate athletics, ACC Commissioner John Swofford said, "Dave Hart is one of the best and most respected athletics administrators in the business. He thoroughly understands the nuances of major college athletics, and he has superb values to go along with his vast experience in the field. He is a proven leader at the conference and national levels."
While at FSU, Hart made many key hires, including the hiring of FSU's first two African-American basketball coaches, including current men's coach Leonard Hamilton, as well as their first African-American senior-level administrator. He also placed a significant focus on the growth of women's athletics at FSU, a commitment reflected in increased funding, competitive success and facility upgrades.
Academic success also accompanied Hart's time at FSU, as the school became home to the inaugural National Student-Athlete of the Year, a State of Florida Woman of the Year recipient, and two Rhodes Scholars. Hart has also earned the Athletics Directors' Award for advancing the quality and progress of student-athletes and the athletics program while at Florida State. In 2008, he received the James J. Corbett Award, the highest honor bestowed by National Association of College Directors of Athletics.
Hart served as Executive Director of Athletics at Alabama from August 2008 until accepting his leadership role with the Volunteers.
A 1971 Alabama graduate, Hart played basketball for the Crimson Tide under legendary head coach C.M. Newton and earned a master's degree from UA in 1972 while working as a graduate assistant men's basketball coach.
Hart met his wife, the former Pam Humble, while at Alabama. The couple has three children: Rick, who serves currently as the athletic director at SMU, Jamie and Kelly. The Harts are the grandparents of five grandchildren: Trevor, Caroline, McKinley, Olivia and Kingsley.