KNOXVILLE-Mike Hamilton walked out of the second-floor ballroom of the Downtown Marriott in Indianapolis on Saturday evening after spending 11 of his final 48 hours as the men's athletic director at Tennessee defending the school in front of the NCAA Committee on Infractions.
Wearing an orange tie and carrying a backpack over his right shoulder, Hamilton, who resigned last week, declined commenting to a handful of reporters. Today is Hamilton's first day of administrative leave, which ends at the end of June.
Despite his lame-duck status entering Saturday's hearing, what Hamilton told the COI about the 12 major violations the NCAA charged against UT likely didn't change due to his resignation, for both personal and contractual reasons.
"I'm there representing Tennessee's interest as the athletic director during the time of the alleged infractions," Hamilton said at his resignation news conference last week. "I'll be there and I'll represent Tennessee in the best way I know how. We've been prepped, and there is a host of folks who will represent Tennessee in that hearing."
Though Hamilton likely would have done so anyways, his separation agreement with UT required him to "cooperate fully" with the NCAA's enforcement staff, the COI or the Infractions Appeals Committee. Doing so would render a $10,000 penalty.
"Nothing contained in this agreement shall be construed to limit or influence Hamilton's testimony in connection with any NCAA or legal proceeding," the separation agreement states.
Hamilton was also reunited with two of his former coaching hires on Saturday, though both former football coach Lane Kiffin and former men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl ultimately were major factors in Hamilton's ultimate demise.
Kiffin bailed on UT for Southern Cal after just one season in 2009, leaving behind him a wake of roster attrition and an NCAA investigation. Pearl lied to NCAA investigators last summer about illegal recruiting activity and endured punishment from UT and the Southeastern Conference to go along with a wave of negative publicity.
UT fired Pearl in March just days after Hamilton foreshadowed the coach's termination in an interview with a Knoxville radio station before the Volunteers were set to play in the NCAA tournament.
Pearl's one-minute interview with reporters never breached the topic of his former boss. Kiffin, who met with reporters upon his exit earlier Saturday afternoon, said he spoke with Hamilton, who hired him to replace Phillip Fulmer in December of 2008.
"I just wanted to make sure I said to him what I said before in the statement," Kiffin said. "I feel really, really bad for him. It's an unfortunate situation. I enjoyed him being my boss, and I think he's a great man."
Much like the rest of the parties involved with UT's unique case, Hamilton will wait out the NCAA's findings, which likely won't be released until sometime in August. Like Pearl and Kiffin, though, Hamilton won't have any association with UT.