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J.J. Clark Comments About His Hiring as UT's Director of Track & Field
J.J. Clark

J.J. Clark

June 22, 2009

Opening statement:

"This is a great day for Tennessee and a great day for myself, just being able to be in charge of leading the Vols and Lady Vols to their next level and down their next road. I'm excited about the opportunity to do so. There's a lot of work to be done, but I'm very anxious to get going.

"This all really began to happen for me yesterday. I got a call on Father's Day and met with the administrative staff and decided to go this route. I'm very thankful for this opportunity. I realized through my time here at Tennessee that you must learn to delegate issues and must have a very responsible and very attentive staff that is dedicated to graduating student-athletes and winning. You must have a very good staff, and you have to believe and trust in your staff as a group.

"Most people are very aware of football and basketball coaching, and they are aware that the staff is very important. It's no different in track & field. You have to have a very competent staff that is onboard and willing to do what is necessary to be the best in the SEC and the best nationally, and I believe we'll have that here at Tennessee."

On scheduling combined meets and doing things together in the future:

"I believe the majority of our meets will be together. I believe you want to do that to get the momentum going and the camaraderie, from the standpoint of the team, going. We'll go to the meets together, doing our chants and singing Rocky Top together. We'll celebrate together as we do well in the next several years to come. That's the way I see that."

On how exciting it's going to be to also work with the tradition-rich men's program:

"I am very, very excited. If you guys weren't here right now, I'd run across the street and get started. I know this is necessary to address everyone, and it's exciting. I just want to get going, and I have a staff that is waiting to get going. We look forward to going in and accomplishing what only a few teams have done, meaning winning both meets nationally. That is something I want to shoot for as a goal, and I want to do our best to keep striving until success is here."

 

 

On whether there is a model to follow in terms of taking the first steps in combining programs:

"Everytime you have a switch or change, for every action there is an opposite or equal reaction. You want to be able to go and secure recruits. Make sure you talk to your staff and start delegating jobs and delegate things to do for your staff. You try to pull things together from the standpoint of meets for next year. There's a lot to be done. I don't know if there is a model, but that's my model.

"The model Chris Fuller was talking about (combined program), Texas A&M won the men's and women's and Oregon finished second. They have combined programs, as do LSU and Florida. They have a structure that is working and winning, and I believe that we can definitely do that.

"We have a great tradition here at Tennessee. There's a great men's tradition here at Tennessee. I am very well aware of that. There's a great ladies tradition at Tennessee. I want to add on to that tradition and not neglect the history or forget about the history that has happened. But, we definitely want to move forward and make progress in our new course."

On whether you see a different mentality or environment with a combined program:

"I think as far as the energy level, with two separate teams, the tone can be set by men or women. You can lead off and have someone win a race that ignites the whole unit. Before, it was separate and everyone was doing their own thing. It won't take much to get us going from that standpoint. It's just exciting to look at the possibilities.

"It is not easy. If it were easy, everyone would be winning. My father always told me there's no elevator to success; you have to take the steps. I'm ready to work, get going and put everything into motion."

On some of the reactions from the athletes:

"It's still very early, and lot of the athletes aren't here because it is summer, but it's been very favorable and very positive. I've gotten e-mails from the athletes, and I've gotten phone calls. My Blackberry just blew up and reset itself because too many calls were coming in. I had a very positive response from most people, and I'm just excited.

"My wife (Jearl Miles Clark) is excited. She's a competitor and is someone who understands what it takes to win. She's just excited to be part of it. I have a sister who graduated from here (Joetta Clark) and is in the Lady Vol Hall of Fame; she's excited. My father, who was featured in the movie "Lean On Me" is excited. Everyone is just ready to get going. Right now, I'm just telling everyone to hold tight. I just want to get myself together and start creating a plan to make this successful."

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