UT AD defends Fulmer

Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton has gone on the offensive, responding to a recent column by John Adams of The Knoxville News-Sentinel calling for the firing of Vol football coach Phillip Fulmer.

Hamilton responded in an email sent to those who support and/or cover UT athletics.

Here is that email:

Dear Friends,

What a great time to be a Vol! Five of our six men's spring sports are currently ranked in the top 15.

Tremendous excitement and unprecedented publicity surrounds our #2 ranked men's basketball team - our highest ranking in school history. Tomorrow night's game versus #1 ranked Memphis is a great opportunity for Tennessee Athletics to be showcased on a national stage and I look forward to a great game.

Our indoor men's track team is currently ranked third, our swimming and diving team is number seven, golf is #10 and out tennis team is undefeated and currently #13.

The opening pitch of the Todd Raleigh baseball era takes the field this weekend at Robert M. Lindsay Field at Lindsey Nelson Stadium. Game times are set for 3 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. If you are around the Knoxville area this weekend, please come out to support Coach Raleigh and the team in his debut.

Many of you may have heard of columnist John Adams of the Knoxville News-Sentinel writing a piece earlier this week calling for a change in leadership of our football team. Mr. Adams' column is totally misguided and inappropriate. Coach Fulmer has responded in a guest column which can be accessed at the following link - http://www.govolsxtra.com/news/2008/feb/21/coachs-first-job-is-as-educator-mentor/. John Adams does not know the Phillip Fulmer I know. The education and growth of young men is a tough business requiring tough decisions and tough love. Coach Fulmer understands that. While several off-field incidents with our football team have occurred over the last few weeks, I can assure you these situations are being looked at with a critical eye by our coaching and administrative staff as we dole out punishment, and they are taken very seriously. Discipline is to be painful and sufficient to change behavior. Sometimes we fall short of that goal, but the ultimate goal of trying to represent the University of Tennessee and to assist in the education of these young men as they become mature men has never changed. Teaching young men personal responsibility and responsibility to a team ultimately addresses these issues. An institution could not ask for a better role model in dealing with these young men than Phillip Fulmer. He is a person of integrity and high moral character. This talk of nonsense from Mr. Adams only serves as a distraction from your university's football team and its goals. I would ask for your rally of support behind Coach Fulmer and this football team as they try and bring home another National Championship for you – the greatest fans in America.

I hope you will make plans to be at the 2008 Spring Game weekend. The Spring Game is Saturday, April 19 and admission is free.

This year we have teamed up with MSL Entertainment for the Gridiron Bash. The Bash will take place on Friday, April 18, in Neyland Stadium and feature Montgomery Gentry and Taylor Swift. Tickets are on sale now for $43 at www.gridironbash.com.

Thank you for your continued support of Tennessee Athletics!

Expect to Win!

Mike Hamilton

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