Christmas came early on Tuesday as Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton resigned.

However, that was one expensive Christmas present.

I’ve been nothing but fair(ly) harsh on Hamilton since writing this blog. So, the news of his stepdown/forceout/whatever-you-want-to-call-it comes with no regret. Yes, it is not a good day for the University and for the Athletics Department when something like this happens under the circumstances that it happens.

But, nonetheless, I’m glad Hamilton’s reign is over.

Most of what I’ve read in terms of rationale for his resignation/dismissal has to do with the impending sanctions likely to be heaved onto us by the NCAA, and the ultimate failure of his two most important hires of his directorship: Lane Kiffin and Bruce Pearl.

The fallout of their nuclear winters laid upon Knoxville within the last 18 months, and the likely lingering radiation that will result in some long-term health effects of the program(s), is probably the main impetus for Hammy’s departure. No doubt about it.

But, I never faulted him for hiring Kiffin/Pearl. I certainly faulted Kiffin and Pearl personally for many of the things they did – they brought their own shame onto themselves by their own deeds. I just don’t fault Hamilton for hiring them in the first place.

They weren’t bad hires WHEN THE HIRES WERE MADE.

There is a lot of talk about how Hamilton should have known by some sign of their past deeds/reputations/rumors that these two would eventually bring shame on the University and the Vol nation.

I disagree.

Hiring anybody for any job is a risk. You takes your chances and hopes for the best. When those hires were made, the basketball and football programs at the times that Pearl and Kiffin were brought to Knoxville desperately needed a shot in the arm. They needed something a lot different than what was there at those times.

They both were bold hires.

But, for many reasons, they didn’t work out in the end. And, when that happens, twice within about a year, the AD is going to be made to bear that old cross.


I wish Hammy the best in what ever is down the road for him. I hope he does well, because I suspect he’s a pretty good bloke.

My problem with Hamilton is that, er,… well…

I just didn’t like the guy as an Athletic Director.

He didn’t have a good grasp of the moment. An AD is in large part a PR man, and a good PR man is somebody who can diffuse a dicey situation with a turn of phrase. Not only was Hamilton not adept at doing that, he could also make a mess out of seemingly nothing, with how he chose his words and when to say them. Do a search for Hamilton on this blog and you’ll see what at least I’ve had to say about a few of those moments.

He could raise a lot of money. He could resurrect a lot of tradition awareness with the building of first-class facilities and the like.

But there was just something lacking for the job of running one of the most visible, tradition-laden sports programs in the country.

He just somehow didn’t have the ‘right stuff’ for his job. He didn’t have that je ne sais quoi.


Now, the one-point-three-three-five-million-dollar-question is what will the one-point-three-three-five-million-dollars get us?

Rumors abound, ranging from Derek Dooley to Phil Fulmer to John Gruden to Pat Summit to a dozen others I’ve read in various places.


More importantly, this is a hire that is perhaps more crucial than the Dooley-Martin decisions put together.

And, let’s not forget that Hamilton hired them both, no matter what happens. Perhaps in years to come, that will be Mike Hamilton’s legacy instead of the failed regimes of Kiffin and Pearl. That means that I hope Hamilton is remembered fondly in a quarter century. I really do.

But now, all eyes are on Indianapolis this Saturday. And then, all eyes will be on Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and others with the influence to make the biggest decision of their lives.

Let’s hope that they have the right stuff, too.



3 responses to “$1,335,000”

  1. rockytop78 says :

    An expensive Christmas present, indeed: 3 years salary plus incentives comes to $1.335 Million, PLUS the add-ons. Talk about adding insult to injury:

    “In the end, Hamilton will receive about $2 million of compensation to walk away from the job. That’s the equivalent of the cost of 7400 undergraduate credit hours that students pay to attend the institution. That’s worth the tuition of nearly 500 undergraduate students at 15 credit hours each.

    “Hamilton will receive three years pay, valued at $1,335,000. That includes his base pay of $400,000 annually and half his supplemental compensation agreement. ($45,000 annually).

    “In addition to that salary, the University of Tennessee will also receive 8 season tickets for men’s basketball and football for the rest of his life, along with two parking permits for each sport.

    “The donations for those tickets alone, considering mid-valued seats, is about $1,000 per ticket. If Hamilton lives 30 years, the benefit is worth another $480,000.

    “Better seats, between the 40 yard lines on the west sideline require an annual donation of $5,000 per seat. That brings the benefit’s total value to $40,000 per year, or $1.2 million worth of football tickets alone. Plus, normal fans still pay the face value of $390 for football season tickets, a $3120 annual cost for 8 seats.


    What a kick in the teeth to UT students, alumni, and fans. I can only hope that Big Jim Haslam is footing the bill for this, and not the UT Athletic Department — which I presume is still paying Phil Fulmer’s epic $6 Million buyout, negotiated by the same Mike Hamilton who is making out like a bandit for failing at one of the fundamental aspects of his job — fielding winning teams.

    My other objections to Hamilton as AD have already been expressed here. All I can say is that I did not renew my season football tickets this past year, after 20 years of faithfully doing so and supporting the team through thick and thin, because of my disgust at Hamilton’s mismanagement of the Athletic Department. I certainly will not renew them at any time over the next 3 years, if it means that any of that money might be used to fund Hamilton’s golden parachute.

    What in God’s name has my school and Athletic Department come to?

    • Norcalvol says :

      Putting the dollar figures in the context of the number of tuitions is brilliant. It highlights the world we now live in, and have for some time – like it or not, college athletIcs at the big schools is a big business, fans be damned.

      • rockytop78 says :

        And I think that Mike Hamilton was the epitome of that particular viewpoint.

%d bloggers like this: