Who is in charge at Tennessee?

Marvin West

The University of Tennessee has endured considerable criticism and some snickering because it wasn’t ready or able to immediately name a new athletic director.

Alabama introduced a replacement for Bill Battle two days after he said goodbye. The secret courtship with Greg Byrne had been going on for months.

Last summer, when Dave Hart didn’t get the contract extension he wanted, he announced his forthcoming retirement. Speculation has been romping along ever since. We’ve nominated two really good candidates. Neither has been ordained.

OK, the Tennessee situation is different. First priority was to find a new chancellor. We finally got one but she was not ready to approve our suggestions. She wanted to look around. I dare not say that is a woman’s prerogative.

I can say this delay caused a very bright Shopper reader to ask exactly who’s in charge at Tennessee?

In theory, the chain of command goes like this: Coaches answer to the athletic director. He answers to the chancellor. She answers to the president. He answers to the board of trustees.

Along the way, influential boosters chime in when they choose. Names on buildings probably carry more weight than little league contributors. I will not attempt a pecking order. You can guess who loans jets.

In theory, trustees have the final say. Years of observation convinced me that trustees almost always approve whatever the president proposes. This is a political process. Money is the key word. How much does it cost and who is going to pay?

Gov. Bill Haslam chairs the board. Raja J. Jubran, UT engineering honors graduate of a generation ago, founder and CEO of Denark Construction, prominent in Clayton Bank, is vice chair. He has had lots to say about settlements of Title IX and sexual harassment lawsuits but not much about athletic directors.

Dr. Joe DiPietro, president of the university system, is a voting member except on audit and compliance matters.

Ex-Vol Charles Anderson, CEO of Anderson Media, is an influential trustee. He is from the Florence, Ala., family that founded Books a Million. He is on the committee searching desperately for a new athletic director. He is also on the executive and compensation committee.

The athletics committee:

  • Spruell Driver Jr., UT graduate with a Duke law degree, is a contract specialist with Vanderbilt’s sponsored programs administration.
  • D. Crawford Gallimore, graduate of UT-Martin, is chief financial officer for Hamilton-Ryker, job placement company in Martin.
  • Vicky Brown Gregg retired as chief executive officer of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. Her roots are in Cleveland.
  • Brad Lampley, ex-Vol, twice a graduate of UT, is with Adams and Reese law firm in Nashville.

Other trustees:

  • Shannon A. Brown is senior VP, human resources and diversity officer for FedEx.
  • Dr. William E. Evans, UT grad, retired as director and CEO of St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
  • George E. Cates retired from MidAmerica Apartment Communities in Memphis.
  • Dr. Susan Davidson is a professor of nursing at UT-C.
  • John N. Foy, UT law grad, is retired from CBL & Associates Properties in Chattanooga.
  • Candice McQueen, state commissioner of education, is an ex officio voting member.
  • Sharon J. Pryse, UT grad, is president and CEO of Trust Company in Knoxville.
  • Dr. Jefferson S. Rogers is a professor of geography at UT-Martin.
  • Rhedona Rose is executive VP of Tennessee Farm Bureau.
  • Miranda N. Rutan is a student at UT-Martin.
  • Jai Templeton, state commissioner of agriculture, is an ex officio voting member.
  • John D. Tickle, UT grad, chairs Strongwell Corporation.
  • Julia T. Wells, UT grad, is VP of marketing for Pictsweet.
  • Charles E. Wharton, UT grad, is CEO of Poplar Creek Farms,.
  • Tommy G. Whittaker, UT grad, is president and CEO of First Farmers Bancshares.

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