The University of Tennessee announced last week that it will be merging its formerly separate men's and women's athletic departments.
Tennessee was one of the remaining DI institutions that had retained separate departments. Most schools combined departments years and years ago as a way to cut costs.
And most schools, in doing so, made the male athletic director the head of the merged department and the women's athletic director--who was almost always a woman--got demoted.
This was not always the case. When my own alma mater, University of New Hampshire, merged athletic departments in the 1990s, the female athletic director took over the whole department.
And now Joan Cronan, head of women's athletics at Tennessee, is taking over the merged department.
She is the first female AD in the SEC. But Cronan doesn't want to the job permanently. She's just going to oversee the transition. Her title is interim director. She will later serve as an adviser within the department.
It's kind of disappointing that she doesn't even want to be considered for the position permanently and be the first permanent female AD in one of the most powerful athletic conferences. But she has been an AD for over 30 years and my guess is that she's on the verge of retirement. Still, clearly the university thought enough of her to give her the position on an interim basis; to assist in the search for a new AD; and to oversee and give advice on the transition.
Of course, I don't think I personally would be too psyched to see Cronan in the position permanently anyway.
One of her primary motivations in taking the position is maintaining the Lady Vols name and logo. While I appreciate her desire to ensure that women's athletics do not get lost in the transition, we all know how I feel about the "ladies."