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KNOXVILLE–The University of Tennessee has launched a national search for an athletic director to succeed Doug Dickey at the helm of one of the nation-s most respected and successful programs.

UT President John W. Shumaker said the university has issued a request for proposals for a firm to help develop the search process, a timeline and search requirements. He said it is hoped that the firm can be chosen by Feb. 24 and an offer made to the new athletic director by the end of April.

“The appointment of an athletics director at a division one university is a very important decision,” Shumaker said. “In finding a successor to a person of the stature of Doug Dickey, I think it is important to have an outside voice help us develop the process and identify candidates.”

Shumaker noted the institution-s vision for the future is to be a preeminent, international teaching and research university recruiting and graduate the very best students including those who participate in intercollegiate athletics.

“The ‘UT 2010 Scorecard’ establishes new standards for graduation rates for all of our students, and Doug Dickey-s successor will play a critical role in our success in the classroom and the various athletic arenas,- he said.

The executive committee of the university’s Athletics Board will serve as the search advisory committee, Shumaker said.

UT trustee Jim Haslam of Knoxville chairs the executive committee. UT Executive Vice President Steve Leonard will handle the staff work for the search.

“We will seek the thoughts and ideas of a lot of people during this process,” Haslam said. “The athletics department generates all of the money in its budget, and it provides support to several non-athletic programs, like the band, the library and academic scholarships.

“Because athletics touches so many programs, it is important that we hear from students, the faculty, alumni, trustees and the administration. All of these groups are represented on the executive committee of the Athletic Board.”

An eight-member subcommittee of the executive committee will handle the day-to-day tasks of the search, Shumaker said. Dr. Anne Mayhew, vice provost and UT’s NCAA faculty representative, will chair the subcommittee.

Other subcommittee members are: Haslam; Provost Loren Crabtree; Elizabeth Clement, president of the Student Government Association; Dr. John Hodges, associate professor of religious studies; Johnnie Amonette, UT trustee from Memphis; Scooter Clippard, trustee from Nashville; and one or more additional trustees to be selected later.

“Among the many things we will look for in the candidates is a strong commitment to academics,” Mayhew said. “When we speak of the student athlete, we must remember that student comes first.”

Other Athletics Board executive committee members are: Sylvia Davis, vice president for budget and finance; Philip Scheurer, vice president for operations; Dr. Ruth Darling, associate provost and director of the Thornton Student Life Center; Dr. Daniel Murphy, associate professor of accounting; and Dr. John Collier, professor of chemistry.