Fans say the surprise isn't why Hamilton resigned, but when

By: Sara Shookman Email
By: Sara Shookman Email
While he called himself a "lightning rod" for negative press for the last three months, some fans say it goes back a lot farther than that.

Chancellor Jimmy Cheek (right) and Athletics Director Mike Hamilton announce Hamilton's departure.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- UT fans have mixed feelings about seeing Athletic Director Mike Hamilton go. While he called himself a "lightning rod" for negative press for the last three months, some fans say it goes back a lot farther than that.

The focus is certainly Hamilton and not the how or why he resigned, but maybe the when.

Mike Hamilton wasn't always the fan favorite. But Tuesday both his supporters and critics are left a little disheartened as Tennessee's trouble continues.

"I figured it was a long time coming," said Zack Taylor, a UT fan. "Pretty much every athletic program we have is in a state of flux right now. It starts at the top."

Here at Ray's and around town, fans have been watching the news unfold. "I think a lot of true UT fans are really disappointed in some of the decision making that he's had," said Taylor. "And to be honest with you, it's his show and he failed miserably."

"All this radical change, football coaches, basketball coaches, baseball coaches, an athletic director can be a killer for a university for a while," said Mike McDaniel, another fan.

"People have questioned him since Fulmer," said Jesse Thomason, a manager at Hounddogs.

Hounddogs in Cedar Bluff lives and dies with UT Athletics.

Thomason says Hamilton had bad timing and made some bad decisions -- but he was great at one thing: "As far as raising money, what his job mainly consists of, I think he's done an amazing job. He's great at that, he always was good at that."

So what's next? "It's just going to a challenge of rebuilding maybe the sports teams and coaching structure," said McDaniel.

And the finding of a new leader that can move the program forward. "We really need somebody that's a real strong Volunteer. They stand behind the school, they stand behind the name," said Thomason.

"Bring in someone that has athletic knowledge, sports background. Don't just bring in a bean counter and think they can run an athletic program. It just doesn't work that way," said Taylor.

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