The Volunteers lose at Arkansas in the first game of Bruce Pearl’s SEC-levied suspension for lying to NCAA investigators the previous summer. Associate head coach Tony Jones filled in for Pearl for the first eight conference games.
Derek Dooley signs his second full football recruiting class at UT, a top-15 haul. Of the 26 players who showed up on campus, 19 played in 2011, and the Vols were starting five first-year players on defense alone by season’s end.
Janzen Jackson, the Vols’ star junior safety, withdraws from school for “personal issues.”
Kentucky hammers the basketball Vols by a dozen in Lexington in Pearl’s first SEC game back from suspension.
Just hours after a big win at Vanderbilt the night before, UT receives the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations that hits Pearl and his staff hard while also alleging two major recruiting violations against former football coach Lane Kiffin. Pearl is charged with unethical conduct; assistants Jones, Steve Forbes and Jason Shay are charged with misleading NCAA investigators as well.
UT athletic director Mike Hamilton essentially seals Pearl’s future in a radio interview with Knoxville radio station WNML just hours after the Vols leave for the NCAA tournament. Two days later, Michigan hammers UT by 30.
Pearl is fired amid the NCAA problems after six years at UT. He took the Vols to the 2008 SEC regular-season title, six straight NCAA tournaments, two Sweet 16s and the 2010 Elite Eight.
Hamilton tabs Cuonzo Martin as Pearl’s replacement. The former Purdue player and assistant took Missouri State to the Missouri Valley Conference title in his third season with the Bears.
Pat Summitt’s Lady Vols are taken out of the NCAA tournament by Notre Dame in the Elite Eight. After winning the 2008 national title, the Lady Vols fail to reach the Final Four for the third consecutive year.
UT freshman forward Tobias Harris opts for the NBA draft after just one season with the Vols. The five-star recruit, who averaged 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds for UT, is taken 19th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in June, becoming the first Vol to go in the first round since 2002. Junior guard and leading scorer Scotty Hopson decides for the NBA draft a day later, but he goes undrafted.
Alabama offensive lineman Aaron Douglas, a former Vol and son of two former UT athletes, is found dead of a drug overdose in a house in Jacksonville, Fla. He was 21.
Todd Raleigh is fired after four years as UT’s baseball coach. The Vols were just 108-113 overall, 42-78 in the SEC and never made the eight-team league tournament under Raleigh.
Junior linebacker Herman Lathers, UT’s leading returning tackler from 2010, brutally fractures his ankle during the first day of summer workouts. The injury required surgery to insert 11 screws and sidelines Lathers for the entire 2011 season.
In a move he termed as “inevitable,” Hamilton abruptly resigns as athletic director amid the NCAA investigation, Pearl fiasco and the hiring of Kiffin that backfired after just one year. Hamilton revamped multiple facilities during his eight-year tenure and kept UT as one of the few profitable athletic programs nationally, but his coaching hires and the NCAA’s presence on campus brought with them a wave of negative public criticism.
Longtime women’s athletic director Joan Cronan is named UT’s interim athletic director for the men’s program. UT also announces its plan to merge its men’s and women’s programs in the summer of 2012. Texas and Tennessee were the only schools with separate programs in the country.
The university, Hamilton, Pearl and his staff and Kiffin are all reunited for UT’s case before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in Indianapolis.
Cal State Fullerton’s Dave Serrano is hired as UT’s baseball coach. The former Vols assistant has taken both Fullerton and California-Irvine to the College World Series in the last five seasons.
After a five-month absence, Janzen Jackson re-enrolls at UT for the second semester of summer school and rejoins the Vols. He remained in Knoxville during his absence, stayed in continual contact with UT’s coaches and held a part-time job in UT’s maintenance department.
Summitt announces in a video released on the UT sports website her diagnosis with early-onset dementia (Alzheimer’s type). The all-time top NCAA winning coach and eight-time national-title winner says she plans to remain the head coach with assistants Holly Warlick, Dean Lockwood and Mickie DeMoss handling more of the coaching duties. It’s a sad addition to Summitt’s long legacy and iconic status.
Jackson is dismissed from UT’s football team for good on the last day of preseason camp, just 10 days before the season opener against Montana. And the school finally gets its NCAA ruling after more than two years. Pearl is slapped with a three-year show-cause penalty that essentially bans him from coaching in college; Kiffin and the Vols’ football program are unscathed and the school is put on probation for two years.
After unsuccessful public overtures to Georgia Tech’s Dan Radakovich and LSU’s Joe Alleva, UT tabs Dave Hart as its new athletic director just two days after the Vols’ football season opener. Hart spent 13 years at Florida State before going to Alabama as executive athletic director in 2008.
The football Vols wallop Cincinnati 45-23. Tyler Bray throws for 405 yards, and the dynamic sophomore receiving duo of Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers combine for 20 catches, 256 yards and three touchdowns. It’s the high point of a season that begins a downhill roll the next week.
After Hunter tears the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on UT’s fourth offensive play, the Vols never recover in a 33-23 loss at Florida. It’s the Gators’ seventh straight win in the series.
Yahoo! Sports reports that Willie Mack Garza, a Kiffin assistant, reimbursed controversial scout Willie Lyles for the airfare of five-star running back recruit Lache Seastrunk. Lyles had been linked to violations at LSU and Oregon.
Bray breaks the thumb on his throwing hand in the fourth quarter of UT’s 20-12 loss to Georgia in Knoxville. The injury knocks him out of the Vols’ next five games.
After playing Alabama to a 6-6 halftime tie, the Vols crumble in a 37-6 loss in Tuscaloosa. It’s the Crimson Tide’s fifth consecutive win in the rivalry and UT’s second 31-point loss in as many weeks with Matt Simms at quarterback.
Freshman quarterback Justin Worley throws two costly interceptions in his first career start, and South Carolina wins 14-3 in Knoxville. UT loses starting safety Brent Brewer to a torn ACL.
Arkansas destroys UT 49-7 in Fayetteville. It’s the Vols’ worst loss since 1981 and the second worst in the SEC era that began in the 1930s.
Bray returns as UT beats Vanderbilt in overtime on defensive back Eric Gordon’s 90-yard touchdown on a interception return.
With a receiver playing quarterback, Kentucky ends its 26-game losing streak to UT with a surprising 10-7 win in Lexington. The loss ends the Vols’ bowl aspirations, gives them their second consecutive losing season for the first time in 100 years and banishes them to the bottom of the SEC East at 1-7. It brings Dooley’s record in two years at UT to 11-14 and 4-12 in conference.
Martin’s first UT basketball season hits an early skid when the Vols blow a second-half lead at home and lose to Austin Peay.
Jarnell Stokes, a five-star forward from Memphis, picks UT over Memphis, Kentucky, Florida and Arkansas in Martin’s first major recruiting coup. Stokes hopes to enroll at UT in January and be eligible to play immediately. He’s the Vols’ first big-time Memphis basketball recruit since Tony Harris in 1998.
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 ...