Tom Jurich, Louisville AD: One of the highest-profile athletics directors in The South, he was voted national athletics director of the year in 2007 by the Street & Smith SportsBusiness Journal. Born in California and educated at Northern Arizona University, he turns 55 on July 26. He interviewed for the Vol athletics director job in 2002 but ultimately decided to stay at Louisville rather than follow U of L president John Shumaker to Knoxville. Enormously popular in the Bluegrass State, Jurich was named to the Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame in 2006. He makes a reported $500,000 per year on a contract that runs through 2017 with rollovers that will take him through age 67. OUTLOOK: If he wouldn't leave Louisville in 2002, there's no reason to think he'll leave in 2011.
Gene DeFilippo, Boston College AD: As a Vol football grad assistant in 1973-74, he developed a friendship with former UT head man Phillip Fulmer. In fact, DeFilippo once was quoted in Boston Magazine saying: "Phillip Fulmer and I had always talked about, for years, me being the athletic director and him being the coach. Every day when I got up, I said, 'You got to go in and work, because you're one day closer to being the athletic director at the University of Tennessee.'" DeFilippo was a quarterback at Youngstown State who later served as an assistant there and at Vanderbilt before switching to the administrative side of athletics. He has been BC's athletics director since 1997. He is a past president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and has kept Boston College among the top 10 nationally in graduation rates for athletes. He was criticized in recent years after firing Eagles head football coach Jeff Jagodzinski for interviewing with the New York Jets and firing BC head basketball coach Al Skinner for playing a deliberate style that won games but not fans. OUTLOOK: DeFilippo is pushing 60 and appears unlikely to leave Boston.
John Currie, Kansas State AD: After rising to executive associate athletics director in 10 years at Tennessee, he left to become athletics director at Kansas State in 2009. His knack for marketing helped the 2009 Wildcats attract the biggest home-opener crowd in the history of Snyder Stadium that fall and helped them set an attendance record for a six-game home schedule in 2010. The 2009-10 KSU basketball team posted the largest attendance increase in the NCAA. While at UT Currie helped guide the $200 million renovation of Neyland Stadium and the $36 million remodeling of Thompson-Boling Arena and construction of the Pratt Pavilion. Now in his late 30s, Currie is a member of the NCAA Administrative Cabinet. OUTLOOK: Don't count this guy out.
Mitch Barnhart, Kentucky AD: He served under Vol athletics director Doug Dickey from 1986-98 before leaving to become AD at Oregon State. After three years there, he left to run the athletics department at Kentucky. A graduate of Ottawa University in Kansas, Barnhart turns 52 on Aug. 17. He was responsible for hiring Rich Brooks, who survived a rocky start to lead Kentucky's football program to an unprecedented four consecutive bowl bids (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009). Barnhart also hired John Calipari, who has a shady reputation but guided the Big Blue basketball team to the NCAA Final Four three months ago. OUTLOOK: Barnhart makes a reported $600,000 per year and is under contract through 2019, so he ain't leaving Lexington.
Lawrence Cunningham, Tulsa AD: A Notre Dame grad, "Bubba" served as AD at Ball State and Associate AD at his alma mater before taking the Tulsa reins in November of 2005. He lost head football coach Steve Kragthorpe to Louisville following the 2007 season but recovered nicely by hiring Todd Graham. Graham's 2008 team averaged 47.2 points per game en route to an 11-3 record. After a 5-7 mark in '09, the Hurricane bounced back to average 41.4 points per game on its way to a 10-3 finish in 2010. Cunningham inherited basketball coach Doug Wojcik, who has gone 123-78 in his six seasons, including a program-record four consecutive 20-win seasons in 2007, '08, '09 and '10. OUTLOOK: This is a guy who could warrant consideration.
Chris Fuller, UT assistant AD: His specific title is senior associate athletics director for external operations. According to the UT.com website: "He is responsible for cultivating corporate partner relationships, developing and implementing season ticket and group sales and developing marketing and promotional plans for men's and women's athletics. Additionally, Fuller oversees all elements of game atmosphere for football and men's basketball. In 2007, Fuller was the lead negotiator on Tennessee's Multi-Media Agreement with IMG College. The agreement, valued at $83.4 million over ten years, is one of the most significant of its kind in college athletics. Prior to Tennessee, Fuller served as a consultant for the Mid-American Conference, Bowling Green State University and Troy State University. Prior to that, he was vice president of collegiate marketing for the Cleveland Cavaliers.... He graduated from Shepherd College in 1988 and earned his master's degree from West Virginia University in 1992. OUTLOOK: This guy's a dark horse but he may be coming up fast on the outside.
David Blackburn, UT assistant AD: This guy has held virtually every job in the athletics department except for athletics director. He is so well respected on The Hill that he once was entrusted with the monumental task of keeping Lane Kiffin in line. Blackburn's 20-year tenure includes stints as assistant recruiting coordinator, director of recruiting compliance for all men's teams, director of football operations, assistant athletic director for development and associate athletic director for football. Born in Loudon and educated at UT, he began working for his alma mater as head student manager and student assistant under Johnny Majors. He later served five years as assistant athletics director for football administration under Phillip Fulmer. OUTLOOK: He may not win the race but he appears to be starting in the pole position.
Phillip Fulmer, former UT football coach: This Winchester native grew up in Tennessee, played for Tennessee and coached Tennessee to a national championship. Moreover, he still has a lot of influential friends among major donors. Fulmer has no administrative experience but that didn't stop former Vol football coach Doug Dickey from becoming an effective athletics director at Tennessee. OUTLOOK: Fulmer's dismissal as head coach in 2008 divided the Vol Nation. Bringing him back as AD might reopen a wound that is just beginning to heal.
Charles Davis, former UT player: A four-year starter at safety from 1983 through '86, this charismatic former Vol is a rising star in the broadcast field who has surprisingly good credentials to be an AD. Originally from New Paltz, N.Y., Davis served as an assistant football coach at Pacific and as an assistant athletics director at Stanford from 1994-96. He also served as director of the U.S. Olympic Training Center and as a special assistant to the executive director of the U.S. Olympic Committee. His TV gigs are far too numerous to mention but he has earned widespread praise for his keen insight in both football and basketball. OUTLOOK: His administrative experience is limited but he's the total package.