Athletic director Rick Hart overseeing UTC upgrades

Athletic director Rick Hart overseeing UTC upgrades

AD 'has made fundamental difference'

July 19th, 2011 by John Frierson in Sports - College

Rick Hart is finishing his fifth year as University of Tennessee at Chattanooga athletic director.

Photo by Jenna Walker /Times Free Press.

A lot has changed at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga since Rick Hart was hired as athletic director in 2006.

There have been coaching changes, some facilities have been built or upgraded and the athletic department is on more solid ground financially.

"I feel like our student-athletes are getting the type of experience they expect and deserve, and at the end of the day that's really what it's all about," Hart said.

Hart has athletics administration in his blood. His grandfather, David Sr., was the Southern Conference commissioner from 1987 to '91, and his father, David Jr., spent 12 years as the AD at both East Carolina and Florida State and is now the executive director of athletics at Alabama.

Before taking over at UTC, Rick Hart spent seven years at the University of Oklahoma. He's also worked in the athletic departments at East Carolina and North Carolina.

Hart doesn't know how long he'll remain at UTC, but he said he and his wife, Allison, made a deal with each other early in his career.

"We promised ourselves that we would never take a job where we couldn't envision ourselves being forever, for the rest of our lives," he said. "When we came to Chattanooga, it was with the understanding that we could very well spend the rest of our lives here. Of course we don't always control that, but everything's worked out great."

UTC chancellor Roger Brown certainly doesn't want to lose his AD, whom he said "has made a fundamental difference in the athletics program." However, Brown is realistic.

"I always want people who are so good that everybody else wants them, too. And that's clearly going to be the case with Rick," Brown said. "He and I have talked very, very frankly and openly about the fact that his career development will happen. That's a given.

"I'm just hoping that his career development happens here for a few more years and we get the benefit of it."

Hart said there's a lot more he wants to accomplish at UTC. Among the items is the improvement of more facilities. McKenzie Arena is already scheduled to be upgraded in 2012, and when UTC finally takes over Engel Stadium, a soccer and track and field facility needs to be built.

"You can't really feel satisfied when you have programs that don't have a dedicated practice or competition site, which track and soccer don't," he said.

UTC is currently working on a facilities master plan and Hart said that process will dictate a lot of what happens in the next 5-10 years.

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