Tennessee Athletic Director Quits Amid NCAA Football, Basketball Inquiry

University of Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton resigned four days before the school goes before a National Collegiate Athletic Association committee to answer claims that it violated more than a dozen rules.

The NCAA said a 22-month investigation found that former basketball coach Bruce Pearl and former football coach Lane Kiffin committed recruiting violations and failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance. Pearl was fired in March and Kiffin is now coach at the University of Southern California.

Hamilton, who has been Tennessee’s athletic director for eight years, will leave the school at the end of the month. He will receive $1.3 million over the next 36 months, according to a news release on the school’s website. An interim athletic director will be named by the end of the week and the school said it hopes to have a replacement hired before the start of the football season.

“We have poured out our lives over the last 19 years to try to make this a better community, a better athletic program and a better university,” Hamilton said in the statement. “We will forever cherish our time here.”

It was the third case in eight days of a major college athletic program dealing with accusations of rules violations.

Jim Tressel resigned as football coach at Ohio State on May 30 amid an investigation of athletes selling memorabilia for cash, drugs and tattoos. Southern Cal was stripped yesterday of the Bowl Championship Series title it won after the 2004 season for what the NCAA said was a lack of institutional control primarily involving former football player Reggie Bush and former basketball player O.J. Mayo.

Pearl Case

Pearl was accused of unethical conduct because he allegedly misled NCAA investigators about hosting high school juniors at a cookout at his house in September 2008 and for calling John Craft, the father of recruit Aaron Craft, to influence his statement to NCAA investigators about the cookout.

Tennessee reduced Pearl’s salary by $1.5 million over four seasons in September 2010 and banned him from off-campus recruiting for a year, with the Southeastern Conference suspending him for eight conference games. Pearl was fired after the Volunteers were eliminated in the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament.

“The cumulative effect of the evolution of the investigation, combined with a number of more recent non-NCAA- related incidents, have led to a belief that this staff cannot be viable at Tennessee in the future,” Hamilton said in a statement March 21.

Assistant coaches were alleged to have participated in the cookout cover-up and for making impermissible phone calls to 12 recruits between 2007 and 2009.

Kiffin and his assistants were accused of making improper phone calls to recruits in 2010 after Tennessee officials warned them not to make the calls. Kiffin and an intern also visited a Florida high school in 2009, after the coach had been warned the intern wasn’t allowed to make on-campus visits. Kiffin resigned on Jan. 10, 2010, after one season at the Knoxville, Tennessee- based university.

To contact the reporter on this story: Curtis Eichelberger in Washington at ceichelberge@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.