Monday, July 16, 2012
- by B.B. Branton
From taping ankles as an athletic trainer to overseeing compliance for hundreds of student-athletes and now to the position of interim director of athletics, Laura Herron has been involved in a wide variety of areas in athletics at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga for 19 years.
Earlier today, UTC Chancellor Roger Brown introduced Herron as the interim athletics director while the university searches for a permanent athletics director to replace Rick Hart who was introduced today in Dallas, Texas as the new A.
D. at Southern Methodist University.
Herron is currently a Senior Associate Athletics Director and the Senior Woman Administrator at UTC.
Hart was the UTC A.D. for the past six years and the sixth A.D. since former head football coach Scrappy Moore served in a dual role (head coach/athletics director) beginning in the fall of 1931. Hart succeeded Steve Sloan who was the A.D from the fall of 2002 to 2006.
"It's a bitter sweet time for us at UTC as Rick is one of the best young athletic directors in the nation and we know he will do a great job for SMU," said Chancellor Brown.
"Rick built a really, really good athletic department during his six years here at UTC and Laura has been an intregal part of that success."
A Chattanooga native and graduate of Dade County High School, Herron has been with the UTC athletics department since 1994.
"Laura deserves a great deal of credit for the success that the compliance department has had as the University. The athletics deparment has been under the microscope for the past two years as we have worked hard to improve our academic standing," said Dr Brown.
Dr. Brown stated that he and Herron will meet Tuesday to discuss the qualities and specifics that they want in the new next UTC athletics director.
"I have worked with four athletic directors and two interim A.D.'s in my 19 years here at UTC and we are currently on the best financial footing in the nearly two decades I have been here," said Herron who does not plan to apply for the permanent athletics director position.
"I will continue with my duties as compliance director while I serve as interim A.D. and will draw from other administrators on campus to help with game day operations and other duties as athletic director."
"Steve Sloan gave me the opportunity to work in compliance in 2004 and it has been a great experience for me."
Six Years Under Rick Hart: During his six years at UTC, the Mocs saw record growth and performance in the classroom, in athletic competition and in the community.
UTC student-athletes compiled a 2.97 grade point average in the spring and have increased the overall GPA in seven of the last eight semesters.
The Mocs also had 11 programs score a perfect 1000 in the latest Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores released from the NCAA.
UTC won 17 regular season and 22 Southern Conference tournament championships in Hart's tenure, far more than any other school in the conference.
"Athletics is the front porch of our home and it has to be a good fit for the university," said Dr. Brown. "Rick left UTC athletics in great shape and set us on the right course, athletically and academically and made sure the student-athletes were also active in the community."
Dr. Brown and Herron do not see the need to hire an athletics director who sees the need to make dramatic changes.
"The athletics department is in great shape and we are not in a great rush or on a time table to hire the next athletics director and will talk with several people and some search firms to find the right person for the job."
"We will look for someone who has had a trip or two around the track with plenty of experience in a variety of areas, but the candidates will not be limited to current ot former athletic directors," stated Dr. Brown who noted that Hart was an assistant athletic director at the University of Oklahoma when hired by UTC.
The Next Hire is a Big Deal: "We will hire someone who truly, truly will take care of the student-athletes, not only while they are here with success in sports and in the classroom, but also to help them for the long term," said Dr. Brown.
"The athletics director's position is a huge deal because of the scrutiny across the county we have been under for the past two years. Rick put this department on a solid business footing and he made sure all the staff continued to receive training through conferences and work shops to do their jobs at the highest possible level."
Times Have Changed ... And So Have Budgets: Scrappy Moore was hired as Univ. of Chattanooga athletics director and football in the fall of 1931 ... . According to Scrappy Moore Jr., Univ. of Chattanooga Chancellor Dr. Guerry gave the UC coach/athletics director a five-page list of duties that fall for a salary of $3,000 a year .... Moore's last contract in the late 1960s was for $16,000 annually ... Rick Hart was hired as UTC's A.D. in May 2006 for a base salary of $155,000.
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