KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee’s athletic program ranked at the bottom of the SEC in fall sports, according to to the Learfield Directors’ Cup Division I fall standings.
The only fall sport the Vols’ scored points in was football, assigned a 24th-place finish good for 50 points in the Learfield scoring system.
Men’s and women’s cross country failed to garner any points, as did women’s soccer, which registered a 6-6-1 mark in SEC play. Volleyball was even worse, 7-11 in league play with no postseason tournament.
Typically, this is where a school would turn to its athletic director for answers.
Tennessee, however, allowed Dave Hart the bizarre privilege of announcing a retirement date nearly a year off when he spoke in August — the effective date being June 30, 2017.
Most assumed Tennessee would put a chancellor and athletic director in place before the start of the new year.
President Joe DiPietro, however, does not seem to be interested in aiding the $126 million football program by expediting the hiring of an athletic director.
DiPietro, formerly the chancellor of UT’s agriculture department, took over as the school’s president on Jan. 1, 2011.
In the five complete athletic seasons since DiPietro became UT’s president, the Vols’ athletic program has averaged a finish of 36.4 in the Learfield Cup all-sports standings.
The five years prior to DiPietro taking over, Tennessee averaged a 16.8 finish.
Former chancellor Jimmy Cheek announced his retirement in June, but the hiring of a new chancellor was not finalized until December, when Cincinnati’s Beverly Davenport was signed to a record-breaking annual contract of $585,000.
Davenport has already started to get paid during her “transition” period, but she won’t start work until Feb. 15.
Tennessee will reportedly form a search committee and likely hire a search film to help secure an athletic director as late as April or May.
The Vols’ lack of urgency and efficiency managing the athletics department has Tennessee fans frustrated, but DiPietro has not made any public statements acknowledging the school’s position.
As for Hart, there’s very little transparency as he serves out his time.
Jones doesn’t seem to be getting any assistance vetting candidates for the vacant offensive coordinator position on the football staff, one of the more pivotal hires in recent Tennessee history.
Jones has revived the Vols’ football team since taking over a program that had won two of its previous 16 SEC games at the time of his hire.
But as the athletic department stands overall, the Vols rank last in the SEC following the fall sports term and 113th in the nation — tied with Rutgers and Purdue.
Only Georgia Tech (132), Texas Tech (149) and Iowa (149) rank behind Tennessee among all Power 5 conference schools.
3. North Carolina
7. Penn State
37. South Carolina
50. Ole Miss
56. Texas A&M
69. Mississippi State
WHERE TENNESSEE HAS FINISHED IN PAST CUP STANDINGS