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Tennessee athletics department holds major press conference, without its athletics director

Dave Hart

Tennessee held a press conference with head coaches involving all 16 of its varsity sports on Tuesday in an attempt to combat the negative press generated by recent numerous sexual assault cases involving Volunteer athletes. Just last week Tennessee joined an ever-growing list of major universities facing federal lawsuits in how it handled sexual assault cases -- particularly those involving male athletes.

The stated purpose of Tuesday's press conference was not to combat those allegations, but to offer an alternative narrative of what's happening inside the Vols' athletics department. The negative stories, UT coaches said, were drowning out the actual, positive culture in Big Orange Country.

You get the point. And while it's great that the head football coach will sit through a rain-soaked softball double-header or that the Vols' football team is willing to share field space with other teams on campus, it doesn't come close to erasing the seriousness of sexual assault allegations involving Vols athletes. Not that anyone argued otherwise on Tuesday, but it bears mentioning.

The most head-scratching aspect of the press conference: all 16 Tennessee head coaches found time to appear on Tuesday morning, but not athletics director Dave Hart.

Short of an absolute family emergency (and I didn't see that reason raised Tuesday, but I'll carve out that caveat anyway), there was nothing else on Hart's schedule that superseded the importance of that press conference.

Come on, man.