KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee’s search for a new athletic director appeared to be near a conclusion Tuesday, when multiple reports surfaced that LSU athletic director Joe Alleva would take the position.
LSU ended the speculation early Tuesday night with a release announcing that Alleva would stay in Baton Rouge.
“This is not an opportunity that I pursued, and Tennessee is a wonderful place, but in the end I felt that Chancellor [Michael] Martin has a great vision for LSU,” Alleva said in the release. “He and the board of supervisors ... showed tremendous support for me to stay at LSU. Baton Rouge is my home and I want to be part of the community for a long time to come. There is more work to be done and my heart bleeds purple and gold. I look forward to working every day to make LSU a better place for the best student-athletes, coaches and fans in America.”
Multiple reports said UT had targeted Alleva as its top choice to replace Mike Hamilton, who resigned in June. Alleva had interviewed with UT and Parker Search Group, the school’s hired search firm, over the weekend, but when it appeared Alleva might take the UT job with an announcement as early as today, LSU was able to keep its fourth-year athletic director.
“It was brought to my attention that the University of Tennessee was interested in Joe becoming their athletic director, and often good people — both in academics and athletics — attract interest from other institutions,” Martin said in the release. “We have been pleased with Joe’s performance, so in concert with the leadership of the board of supervisors, we determined it was in the best interests of the university to make him a sufficiently fair offer and an opportunity to remain at LSU. We are happy that he has chosen to keep Baton Rouge as his home.”
Alleva arrived at LSU in 2008 after 11 years as AD at Duke, which won six national titles and 44 Atlantic Coast Conference titles during his tenure. He also hired three football coaches, fired a baseball coach amid allegations that the coach was encouraging players to take steroids and navigated the lacrosse team through an infamous rape case involving three players.
LSU won the 2008 national title in baseball. The Tigers’ football program, however, was placed on one year of probation last week after the NCAA ruled in its case involving violations by a former assistant coach and a former player. The NCAA, which generally puts schools that commit major infractions on probation for two years, lauded LSU for how it handled the case quickly and effectively to avoid stiffer sanctions.
Hamilton resigned in June amid an ongoing NCAA case involving UT’s football and men’s basketball programs. UT chancellor Jimmy Cheek said in June he wanted to hire a new athletic director before the start of football season. The Vols report for preseason camp Monday and open the season Sept. 3 against Montana.
Interim athletic director Joan Cronan will continue to run the department for UT, which appeared set to hire Georgia Tech’s Dan Radakovich two weeks ago before the Yellow Jackets’ NCAA violations came to light.
“This is certainly a position we can attract very talented people to,” Cheek said when Hamilton resigned. “We want somebody to come in and build on the strong foundation that currently exists. We need to stabilize our leadership team and move ourselves aggressively forward in the directions we want to go, which means we’re going to be a better place in the future than we are today.”
Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...