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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)
The University of Tennessee is in the final stages of selecting a firm to help conduct its national search to find a new athletic director.
"The university is in the middle of the procurement process to hire a firm to assist with the search for the athletic director," UT spokeswoman Karen Ann Simsen said Wednesday. "We are hoping to wrap up the process soon."
Once the firm has been selected, Simsen said, UT will provide a general timeline for the search and announce the members of a search committee that has been appointed by new UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport.
"The members of the committee at that point will work closely with the search firm on beginning to recruit candidates," Simsen said.
Since the time she was named the new chancellor in December, UT said Davenport would be leading the search for the new athletic director. Davenport, currently the interim president at the University of Cincinnati, officially begins working at UT on Feb. 15.
UT athletic director Dave Hart announced on Aug. 18 that he was retiring. Hart's retirement goes into effect on June 30.
UT paid the Parker Executive Search firm $75,000, plus expenses, to help in its nationwide hunt for a new chancellor for the Knoxville campus.
The contract locked in terms that can be used by the Tennessee Board of Regents and any of the UT campuses for searches, but neither is required to use Parker.
UT would not comment on why it has opened the bidding process for a search firm for the athletic director hire.
Parker has helped UT fill at least 11 leadership positions, including four in athletics, in the past nine years.
The Atlanta-based firm aided UT searches that resulted in the hiring of Hart, former basketball coach Cuonzo Martin, former football coach Derek Dooley and current baseball coach Dave Serrano.
Parker has been involved with some controversial athletic director hirings over the years. Former Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague stepped down from the position in 2015 after sexual harassment allegations. Parker disputed a suggestion by school president Eric Kaler that it didn't do its due diligence during the search process.
In 2013, Parker helped Rutgers University hire former Lady Vols volleyball coach Julie Hermann as athletic director. The firm failed to discover Hermann was accused of verbally abusing UT players in the 1990s, according to USA TODAY. Hermann was fired by Rutgers in 2015.
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