My letter to John "Thunder" Thorton.

My apologies if this is too soon, but I just couldn't wait. It's been sent.

Mr. Thorton,

First, let me apologize that I have sent this to your work e-mail. You and I are not acquainted and I know this is probably an interruption. That being said, I do want to voice some concerns that I have about the University of Tennessee Athletic Program.

First off, let me say that I also reside in Chattanooga, am a [school redacted] graduate (class of '99), and I am a donor to the UT athletics department. Of course, I would consider myself to be a 'rank and file' donor as I have not yet attained the success that you have earned for yourself. However, I am very troubled about the current state of UT athletics nonetheless. My chief concern is our current Athletics Director, Mike Hamilton. Since Mr. Hamilton took over in 2003, he has seen our proud football team decline into mediocrity (though Dooley may still return us to relevance), handled the situation with Coach Philip Fulmer in an atrociously unprofessional manner, hired an unapologetic, self-absorbed miscreant by the name of Lane Kiffin, and saw three athletic teams come under NCAA investigation -- two of which are the subject of major violations. However, Mr. Hamilton has also had some success, as well. He is an adept fundraiser and hired Coach Bruce Pearl who took the UT basketball program out of obscurity to national relevance. Unfortunately, those successes cannot outweigh, in my opinion, the decline of our athletics program on an astonishing level.

It has been absolutely exhausting to be a Tennessee Volunteers fan over the past three years. This cannot be blamed on the student athletes. There has been a litany of miscues and missteps by the current administration that has brought us to this point. The most recent of which being Mr. Hamilton's interview with The Sports Animal, 99.1, two days before the NCAA tournament. I will not debate the viability of Coach Pearl in this letter, but I will say Coach Pearl has taken our basketball team to heights we never imagined less than a decade ago. Like all Vols fans, I was terribly disappointed with Coach Pearl for lying about a secondary violation. However, for Mr. Hamilton to give an interview two days before the tournament and undercut our coach at the knees was beyond unprofessional. It was a betrayal and I consider it treason against the Volunteers and everyone who supports them.

I do not know if there is some outside discussion of positioning ourselves for a new basketball coach. However, Mr. Hamilton's 'apology' to Coach Pearl yesterday was an indication that he made a grievous error -- again. As someone who cares deeply about the Tennessee Volunteers, I urge you to consider Mr. Hamilton's administration and ask yourself if this is what we want going forward. As a 'rank and file' donor, I cannot command the type of influence that you have. I'm sure you may have already voiced your concern and, if so, please do so even more. What I witnessed today (Tennessee losing by 30) was not Tennessee Basketball. This is not Tennessee athletics.

Thank you for allowing me to voice my concerns. I am and will always be 100% committed to the success of the Tennessee Volunteers. Let us get an Athletics Director who is able to do the same.


So, that's what I wrote. I doubt he'll even read it, but I felt I had to do something.

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