Land of the Setting Sun
UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton simply doesn’t have the qualifications for his job.
Fundraising, Hamilton’s arguable strength, is a large part of his responsibility. But so is representing his university with intelligence and forethought.
Ever since Pearlgate got underway, Hamilton has publically supported the coach he hired to turn around the fortunes of men’s basketball at UT. Even in the face of that additional infraction in the NCAA’s notice of violations – Pearl committed yet another infraction less than a week after he sobbed his way through an apology – Hamilton was going to let the upcoming NCAA process play itself out before deciding on Pearl’s fate.
That is what Hamilton should have said during his recent radio interview.
Instead, Mr Hamilton let the public and the media infer that Pearl was as good as a dead man walking.
To some, that was nothing more than an unfortunate choice of words. But the fact that they were delivered on the eve of Tennessee’s first round game of March Madness was akin to a tsunami taking out reserve fuel tanks of a nuclear powerplant. The ensuing pre-game press conference turned into a meltdown of the Tennessee men’s basketball program.
Of course if Pearl hadn’t tried to cover up his petty crimes with lies, we wouldn’t be talking about how our AD pushed one of his coaches in front of an oncoming train.
Instead, we’ve endured one embarrassment after another. From the cover up, to the self-imposed sanctions and penalties, to Pearl’s non-reporting of yet another infraction, to his refusal to agree to contract language when he had little ethical capital to play with, to the NCAA’s exposure of infractions, to Tennessee’s redactions of rules and actions in the public release of charges, to Hamilton’s seemingly turnabout of unequivocal public support, to the Vols’ second-half implosion of heart and resultant 30-point loss to Michigan on Friday…
It all leads to one thing – we have turned ourselves into an object of national derision. This is not the fault of the press. It is the fault of those running the show of Tennessee’s men’s basketball.
We are a laughingstock because of our own actions.
At least Pearl’s responses to the barrage of questions about his future in light of his boss’ remarks were classy and focused the blame squarely on himself. At least he had the awareness under the hot lights not to appear shallow and thoughtless.
Nonetheless, our program is on the verge of having Sendai being a metaphor for the state of the program.
Hamilton’s self-exposure of his lack of awareness was the final straw in a comic-tragedy not seen in Knoxville at this scale since, oh I don’t know, in about a year or two (think the Fulmer saga, think the Kiffin debacle).
The Tennessee faithful have admirably circled the wagons throughout this mess.
Pearl must go. Then, Hamilton must be taken out behind the barn and given forty lashes. Then we should see what he says, just for fun, before firing him, too.