The turnover continues in the University of Tennessee athletic department.
Mike Hamilton announced his resignation, effective June 30, after eight years as the school's men's athletic director on Tuesday morning. He has worked in UT's athletic department for the past 19 years.
In front of a full-capacity crowd of family, friends, UT officials and media in the Stokley Family Media Center, located in Neyland Stadium, Hamilton set with UTK Chancellor Jimmy Cheek to his right at Tuesday's press conference.
"Through much prayer and council over the last several months, this has led me to believe that my personal and professional life need to be more closely aligned and I need to close this chapter in my life and move ahead," Hamilton said.
Hamilton said he approached Cheek last week about the possibility of resigning, and after multiple conversations between the two, came to Tuesday's decision.
"I've never experienced more challenge or frustration in my 26 years of professional life than during the last 18 months," Hamilton said. "I accept the responsibility for some of the things that have led to some of these challenges.
"Ultimately, I think today was inevitable based on today's operating environment in college athletics."
The news comes four days before the school is scheduled to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions regarding possible violations in the school's football and men's basketball programs under former coaches Lane Kiffin and Bruce Pearl. Hamilton said he believes his resignation this week allows both he and the school to go before the committee in Indianapolis this weekend with "a clean slate."
"The last several years at UT have been marked by turmoil, fractures in the development of camps," said Hamilton. "This is neither healthy nor productive for our university. During the last three months in particular, I, myself, have become a lightning rod for negative attention and that's a major distraction for the many positive things that are going on in athletics and on our campus."
Those positives include extensive fundraising efforts, which have helped allow the athletic department give $10 million annually back to the university and facility upgrades, which include Neyland Stadium. Hamilton is also actively involved in numerous community service organizations.
"We've experienced great success under Mike Hamilton's leadership," Cheek said. "His contributions to our campus, faculty, staff and students will live on forever. We're greatly appreciative of what Mike Hamilton has done as our athletics director."
Cheek addressed the school's plan going forward in hiring Hamilton's successor.
"We'll begin a national search for a new athletic director immediately," he said. "I expect to name an interim athletic director in the coming days."
"...We want somebody to come in and build on the strong foundation that already exists, and we also need stability...We need to stabilize our leadership team and move aggressively forward in the direction we want to go, which means we'll be a better place in the future than where we are today."
Hamilton offered his suggestion for UT's fan base.
"We have a tremendous fan base and I'm asking you to rally all of your support behind (football) coach (Derek) Dooley, (men's basketball) coach (Cuonzo) Martin, (women's basketball) coach (Pat) Summitt and all of the other head coaches of their respective teams as we move forward to a much better time that is just on the horizon," Hamilton said. "I'd also ask that you give that same support to the new athletic director, to Dr. Cheek and (UT President) Dr. (Joe) DiPietro as they try to provide leadership in this effort."
Hamilton will be paid $1,335,000 over the next 36 months as part of his agreement with the university.