Hamilton's in the news

Vol athletics director Mike Hamilton is getting a lot of publicity these days.

The Tennessean reports that he soon will get a contract extension and a raise on his $230,000 base salary. UT President Dr. John Petersen reportedly is pleased with Hamilton's performance the past year, particularly his handling of the Buzz Peterson firing/Bruce Pearl hiring in basketball.

Interestingly enough, that very hiring continues to make news on the West Coast. The college basketball section of the Los Angeles Times' website, latimes.com, features a story by Robyn Norwood entitled "Pump Priming." The article concerns twin brothers David and Dana Pump, and questions Hamilton's association with them. The Pumps are Adidas employees who run Coach Search, the firm that spearheaded UT's quest for Peterson's replacement. The controversy stems from the Pumps' reputation as power brokers in the world of college basketball recruiting.

Basically, this is the gist of the Times story: Hamilton paid the Pumps $25,000 to find a new coach. Since the Pumps are well connected with AAU coaches -- providing many of them with athletic gear for their teams -- some cynics are hinting that Hamilton enlisted the Pumps to steer prospects in Tennessee's direction, moreso than to locate a new coach. One prospect mentioned specifically is superstar Thaddeus Young, whose AAU team -- Memphis Pump 'N Run -- is essentially sponsored by the Pumps.

Hamilton is quoted in the Times story saying he hired Coach Search simply because the Pump brothers have numerous contacts in the coaching profession and because former NCAA president Cedric Dempsey is affiliated with the firm.

But Dan Wetzel, author of an expose' on the power shoe companies wield in college basketball titled "Sole Influence," is quoted saying the hiring of the Pumps by Tennessee (an Adidas school) creates an "implication or appearance of impropriety [that] shouldn't be allowed."

In a totally unrelated note, Hamilton also is in the news regarding an offer from ESPN to switch Tennessee's Sept. 3 football opener against Alabama Birmingham to Sunday night, Sept. 4. Hamilton declined, even though the switch would've meant national TV exposure and a chance to play an early season game at night. By nixing the ESPN offer, Tennessee's opener probably will wind up being a regional telecast on Jefferson Pilot Sports with a 12:30 kickoff -- meaning fans may have to contend with sweltering midday heat.

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