In the three-plus weeks since Mike Hamilton stepped down as the University of Tennessee athletic director, the lack of news has increased the amount of speculation.
On Wednesday, the “hot” name added to the mix was Heath Shuler.
Yes, that Heath Shuler, the former Vols quarterback and current Democratic U.S. congressman from North Carolina.
Shuler’s name was tossed out earlier this week by a Knoxville-area radio sports talk show host.
Neither Shuler nor his staff immediately debunked the speculation, but his spokesman, Andrew Whalan, did say Shuler was looking toward the 2012 election and not the Vols’ 2011 sports schedule.
“Congressman Shuler is focused on the very serious challenges facing our nation, including job creation and balancing our budget,” according to a quote on The Washington Post website. “He is currently and actively preparing for his next re-election campaign in 2012 and looks forward to continuing to fight for the working families of Western North Carolina in the years ahead.”
Shuler’s former coach, Phil Fulmer, was among the early names mentioned to replace Hamilton, who resigned June 7, four days before representing UT in its appearance before the NCAA’s Committee of Infractions to answer allegations about major rules violations in the men’s basketball and football programs under former coaches Bruce Pearl and Lane Kiffin.
Shuler ranks eighth in UT history in total offense (4,472 yards) and passing (4,088 yards) and was the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy in 1993 before leaving for the NFL. He was picked by the Washington Redskins as the third overall pick in the 1994 draft. After injuries and erratic play, Shuler was out of the NFL after four seasons.
UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek has appointed a committee to work with Parker Executive Search of Atlanta to find the next athletic director. Cheek said when Hamilton resigned that he hoped to have a new AD by September.
“We will begin a national search for a new athletic director immediately,” Cheek said at the time. “This is a great program; we have a great university; we have great academics; we have great athletics. This is certainly a position we can attract very talented people to.”
Jay was named the Sports Editor of the Times Free Press in 2003 and started with the newspaper in May 2002 as the Deputy Sports Editor. He was born and raised in Smyrna, Ga., and graduated from Auburn University before starting his newspaper career in 1997 with the Newnan (Ga.) Times Herald. Stops in Clayton and Henry counties in Georgia and two years as the Sports Editor of the Marietta (Ga.) Daily Journal preceded Jay’s ...