Longtime Lady Vol athletics director Joan Cronan has been serving as Tennessee's interim AD since Mike Hamilton resigned the post on June 7. Hamilton was making a reported $500,000 per year. Hart makes a reported $325,000 in Tuscaloosa.
Hart's sudden emergence is a bit of a surprise, not because of his qualifications but because of his background. As associate athletics director at Alabama the past three years, he has helped the Tide achieve tremendous success in football and significant growth in basketball. During a previous 13-year stint as athletics director at Florida State, however, his program was rocked by an academic scandal.
A reported 23 Seminole student-athletes allegedly cheated on classwork in 2006 and 2007. An FSU tutor admitted giving them answers to exams over the Internet, typing papers for them and filling in quiz answers for them. The incidents came to light in late '07, prompting the suspension of more than 20 football players from the 2007 Music City Bowl game with Kentucky and prompting Hart to resign as AD on Dec. 31 of that year.
After a brief stint as an advisor to Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner John Swofford, Hart was hired Aug. 10, 2008 as associate athletics director at Alabama, where he had played varsity basketball and served as a graduate assistant while getting his masters in 1971-72. He is married to the former Pam Humble, another Alabama alumnus.
Other than the academic scandal, Hart's qualifications appear to be impeccable. He was in his second year at the Capstone when the Tide football team went 14-0 en route to the 2009 national championship. He reportedly played a key role in the hiring of Anthony Grant as Bama's head basketball coach two years ago. Grant guided the 2010-11 Tide to the SEC West title, a 25-12 record and a runner-up finish in the National Invitation Tournament.
Hart spent 12 years as an administrator at East Carolina University, eight of them as AD before serving as athletics director at FSU from 1995-2007.
Although Mal Moore, 71, holds the athletics director title at Alabama, Hart reportedly handles much of the day-to-day aspects of the job. Should Hart accept Tennessee's offer, he supposedly plans to bring several of Bama's assistant ADs with him.