Hart: Tennessee's brand remains strong

Hart: Tennessee's brand remains strong

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee has a steep hill to climb before the Volunteers can fully recover from all their recent setbacks - on an off the field.

Athletic director Dave Hart knows it won't be an easy process.

His background gives him a unique perspective on the gap separating Tennessee from the top Southeastern Conference football programs.

Hart arrived at Tennessee in the fall of 2011 after working at Alabama, which just won its third BCS title in the last four years. He knows the difficulty of competing in the SEC and realizes what Tennessee must do to start competing for league championships again.

He believes new coach Butch Jones understands what it takes as well.

``He has a great understanding of the total picture,'' Hart said. ``He wants to re-engage with lettermen, with high school coaches. He's spending a lot of time balancing a lot of balls. He's very, very proficient at multitasking. He knows recruiting is at the top of the priority list because we've got to go find football players who can help us return to the top of the pyramid, in the SEC and nationally.''

Hart doesn't believe the Tennessee brand has been tarnished by the Volunteers' tumultuous recent history.

Tennessee has posted three straight losing seasons in football for the first time in a century, and Jones wasn't the first choice to replace Derek Dooley. Hart hired Jones - who will be the Vols' fourth coach in a six-year stretch - last month after Louisville's Charlie Strong announced he'd turned down an offer from Tennessee.

``Certainly we've had a very tough five years or so, a run that we're trying to come out of,'' Hart said. ``Internally we are setting the foundation to come out of it.''

He pointed to the Vols' fan base as evidence of the fact the Tennessee brand remains strong.

``They've been extremely supportive through some very rough waters,'' Hart said. ``We've been in choppy seas, and yet they haven't been intimidated, nor have they been deterred.''

As it attempts to rejuvenate its football program, Tennessee's athletic department is working at a financial disadvantage. The athletic department reported a $3.98 million budget deficit for the 2011-12 fiscal year that caused its reserve to drop to $1.9 million, the lowest total in the Southeastern Conference.

Hart noted that other SEC schools have reserve of anywhere from $50 million to $100 million. Hart said he eventually wants to build the reserves back up to $50 million, though he didn't set a timetable for it.

``That's not an overnight process by any stretch of the imagination,'' Hart said.

Steps have been taken to address the athletic department's budget issues.

Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek has announced the athletic department would keep $6 million each of the next three years instead of contributing that money annually to the university as it had done previously. That $6 million annual donation had been used primarily for scholarships and fellowships, which now will be funded primarily through private gifts.

``We still have to be very mindful that we're still not flush with revenues,'' Hart said. ``We're certainly not going to allow our financial position to impact our pursuit of comprehensive excellence.''

Hart also noted that he would like to continue scheduling one high-profile nonconference football game per year. The Vols travel to Oregon this season and will end up playing road games against the Ducks and Florida on back-to-back weeks. Tennessee's other nonconference games are at home against Austin Peay, Western Kentucky and South Alabama.

Tennessee opened its 2012 season against North Carolina State at the Georgia Dome, and Hart said he wouldn't mind scheduling something similar in the near future.

Hart also remained confident that Tennessee could continue its men's basketball series with Memphis, though it's increasingly unlikely they will meet next season. Tennessee's 85-80 loss to Memphis last week represented the last game in the contract between these two schools, but Hart and Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen have been negotiating future matchups between the in-state rivals in men's basketball as well as other sports.

``I'm not so concerned with there being a one-year gap (in the series) as I am about there being a multi-year gap,'' Hart said. ``I don't think either Tom or I want that to occur.''

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Bradley Beal says he played the role of Wizards recruiter at All-Star Weekend

Bradley Beal says he played the role of Wizards recruiter at All-Star Weekend

CHARLOTTE -- Wizards guard Bradley Beal enjoyed every part of All-Star weekend in Charlotte. He met countless fans at charity events and autograph signings. He mingled with rapper J. Cole and actor Chris Tucker at the All-Star Game. He dropped 11 points for Team LeBron and threw down a big two-handed dunk.

Beal had a lot of fun. But he was also there with business on his mind. He recognized an opportunity, being in the locker room and on the floor with 25 other All-Stars, to do some recruiting.

Yes, Beal wants some help in Washington and believes he may be able to find it by selling other stars on the Wizards' future. After trading Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris, the Wizards could have some money to play with in free agency and Beal wants to help them use it.

"The recruiting process is really going alright. It's going alright. I'm trying," Beal said. "This is new for me. I'm definitely getting some ears and seeing what guys are looking for."

Beal wouldn't name names for fear of reprimand from the league. But he did share some details about how those conversations went.

He said he asked players about their situations and whether they were happy playing where they are. And to his surprise, some players came up to him and started the conversation themselves. Some asked about his situation, likely wondering if he would want to leave.

But it sounds like some may have inquired about what it would be like to play for the Wizards.

Beal said he got questions like: "So, what are y'all doing in D.C.?" and "How is D.C.?"

Whenever he was pressed for further details by reporters, Beal brushed the questions off. 

"I'm gonna keep it in my piggy bank, in my back pocket. Hopefully we can do something," he said.

Though Beal could technically have asked players who aren't set to hit free agency, ones that could join the Wizards via trade, it is more likely he was going after those who could sign a contract this summer. 

The point guards can probably be eliminated because John Wall is about to enter a supermax contract next season. That leaves Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Khris Middleton, and Nikola Vucevic.

The first two can be set aside. Durant said he doesn't want to play at home and Leonard seems to have a good thing going in Toronto.

Thompson has been assumed to be headed for Los Angeles or to stay in Golden State. Though, he would be a fantastic complement to Beal and Wall.

Middleton and Vucevic are the two most realistic options, but may not be perfect fits.

If Beal was seeking out players who might be attainable in trades, Anthony Davis is, of course, the big name. Wouldn't that be something?

Hey, he did say all 29 teams are on his list of trade destinations.


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Capitals at Kings: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals at Kings: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals head to Los Angeles to take on the Kings on Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET. The Caps are second in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 32-19-7, while the Kings are scraping along the bottom of the Pacific Division with a record of 23-29-6. The Caps also beat the Kings (quite recently) 6-4 on Feb. 11.

The Kings are hoping to break out of their season slump and put an end to their four-game losing streak against the Capitals during Monday evening’s 10:30 p.m. ET game.

Here is everything you need to know about Monday’s late-night matchup, which will begin at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.


What: Washington Capitals at Los Angeles Kings, Game 60 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
When: Monday, Feb. 18, 10:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Capitals at King game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder Link)
Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Kings on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.
Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM


9:30 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
10:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live
10:30 PM: Capitals at Kings


Lars Eller -- lower body as of Feb. 1

Alec Martinez -- upper body as of Feb. 15
Sean Walker -- face as of Feb. 15
Jonny Brodzinski -- shoulder as of Sept. 20


Evgeny Kuznetsov, F, Capitals (15 goals, 39 assists, 54 points): Last time the Caps faced the Kings (which was only one week ago), Kuznetsov contributed two goals and two assists to the Caps’ 6-4 victory. His timely goal finished out the game, essentially securing the Caps’ victory, NBC Sports Washington’s J.J. Reagan reported. In the two games that have happened since, Kuznetsov has given the Caps one assist and one point. 

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (39 goals, 27 assists, 66 points): Ovi is just shy of 40-goals and played a key role in the Caps’ latest game against the Kings. He led the team with eight shots on net, and the team captain gave the Caps the first point of the game.


Number of all-time Meetings: 111
All-Time Series Record: Kings lead 60-38-13
Last Meeting: Caps win 6-4 (2/11/19)