The University of Tennessee named Dave Hart vice chancellor and director of athletics on Sept. 5, 2011. Hart has held leadership roles in athletics administration at East Carolina University, Florida State University and the University of Alabama.
"Dave has done an excellent job of positioning our athletics department to achieve excellence both on the field and in the classroom," said University of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. "Our first priority is the student-athlete; Dave has made that his goal from the first day he arrived on campus."
Among the many challenges and goals being addressed in the first two years of his tenure at Tennessee, Hart has led efforts which included the following:
- Restructured the athletics department and developed an organizational flow chart.
- Redefined the athletic department Mission Statement to focus on the student-athlete.
- Created a new Governance 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, which is in the process of being finalized, for the next 5-to-10 years.
- 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 as well.
In December, 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 to the program as the Vols approach his first season at the helm.
Hart also hired Holly Warlick to follow the legendary Pat Summitt as the head coach of Tennessee's women's basketball program, and Warlick led the Lady Vols to the SEC championship, an Elite Eight appearance, and a 27-8 record in her first season.
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. Also last year, the men's golf program reached the final round of the NCAA tournament.
In just under two years at Tennessee, Hart has worked with Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and Provost Susan Martin to strengthen the long-term financial model for Tennessee Athletics while making considerable strides in improving the academic support structure for UT student-athletes, including the hiring of Dr. Joe Scogin as senior associate athletics director and assistant provost to lead the Thornton Student Life Center.
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 during his tenure, 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 Florida State, 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 a combined eight top-three finishes nationally over the last three years. Hart has more than 20 years of service as a director of athletics.
"It is a privilege to be Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics at the University of Tennessee," Hart said. "To be entrusted to lead one of the nation's elite athletics programs is an exciting opportunity and one that I cherish."
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. He also devised and executed an extensive and comprehensive facilities master plan for athletics that eclipsed 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. He spearheaded the rewriting of the department's mission statement to put the student-athlete at the core of athletic department priorities in its goal to build comprehensive excellence throughout all components of the department.
"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."
Hart took a leadership role in the FSU athletics department's first major capital campaign, in concert with Seminole Boosters, which raised more than $75 million for athletics facilities and served as the catalyst for a subsequent effort. Within the Facilities Master Plan, there were several state-of-the-art facilities constructed, including a soccer/softball facility, a state-of-the-art golf facility and teaching center, a basketball training center and major renovations to the tennis and volleyball facilities.
The Moore Athletics Center and Dick Howser Baseball Stadium ranked among the nation's best. A new aquatics facility and a renovation to the track facility were finalized in 2008.
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. Under Hart's direction, FSU formalized a varsity club to encourage the participation of former student-athletes in athletic department activities. 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. A record number of FSU student-athletes made the ACC Academic Honor Roll, were recipients of NCAA post-graduate scholarship awards and obtained degrees. Student-athlete community service involvement became a priority under Hart with student-athletes contributing more than 5,000 hours in community outreach projects.
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's commitment to service includes considerable time on numerous national and conference committees, including the NCAA Council, the NCAA Honors and Awards Committee and the NCAA Special Events and Postseason Bowls Committee, and he has been a consultant to the NCAA Student-Athlete Advisory Council.
Hart was one of 11 athletic directors nationally who worked with an advisory group of athletic directors to presidents and conference commissioners in ongoing meetings and discussions regarding post-season football format options and similar issues related to the football postseason. In addition to his prominent leadership roles nationally, Hart chaired and had direct involvement with the renegotiations of both of the ACC's football and basketball television contracts and chaired the ACC Television Committee as well as the ACC Men's Basketball and Football committees.
He also served as Chairman of the NCAA Football Board of Directors where he represented NACDA and served with commissioners of Division I-A conferences as well as past NCAA President Myles Brand.
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 basketball coach.
A popular speaker at the national level, Hart has made numerous speaking presentations nationally and presented seminars on such topics as student-athlete welfare, marketing, gender equity, facility master planning, negotiation skills and personnel transition. He was an instructor at the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics Management Institute for 10 years and currently is an annual presenter at the Division I-A Athletics Directors' Institute sharing with peers his knowledge and experiences relating to athletics administration.
Hart met his wife, the former Pam Humble, while at Alabama. Pam is a 1970 graduate of The University of Alabama, and 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.