It was quite the understatement made by UTK Chancellor Jimmy Cheek during the June 7 press conference where men's Athletic Director Mike Hamilton announced his resignation, effective June 30.

"We want somebody to come in and build on the strong foundation that already exists," Cheek said when asked what qualities the next athletic director would need.

"And we also need stability."

Three head football coaches. Two head men's basketball coaches. A vacant head baseball coaching position. And soon to be no full-time athletic director.

Safe to say, stability should be UT's first priority in the short-term.

Currently, UT is one of two schools in the country that has separate men's and women's athletic departments; the other is Texas.

Stability has been a staple on the women's side of things, most notably with basketball coach Pat Summitt and women's Athletic Director Joan Cronan.

So it shouldn't have come as a surprise when Cronan was named the interim athletic director last Thursday.

"It's an exciting time," Cronan said. "When I think about history and where we started, I've actually been an athletic director for 38 years — some of you, don't start counting. It's been a long time, and this is an opportunity to look to the future.

"When I was offered this job, I said, 'Why and why not?' The why is I love Tennessee. The why is I love the Big Orange. The why is that we're good, and I want us to continue. The challenge is the transition. The challenge is we haven't had a great year — but the future is bright. I look forward to having the opportunity to lead this program into the future."

That future includes a merging of the men's and women's athletic departments, also announced last Thursday.

"As we looked at going forward, we looked at some consolidation and all of you know that we have been doing some consolidation," Cronan said. "We looked at efficiency and effectiveness, and this is a way to continue that. This is a way to be part of the solution, not a part of the problem. I think as we look forward to UT athletics, both men's and women's, I think it's going to be all right."

While Cronan made it clear she wasn't interested in being the full-time athletic director, she will aide in finding her replacement.

"I love the title interim athletic director and I'm looking forward to being a part of the search and a part of selecting that vice-chancellor and athletic director that will lead Tennessee in the future," she said.

One of her first duties will be being on the committee that hires the next baseball coach — a position that could be filled by the end of the week.

But most importantly, Cronan brings that "s-word" Cheek mentioned on June 7.

"My goal right now is to bring stability and bring a feeling of 'We're going to be O.K.,' because we are going to be O.K.," she said. "I look around at other athletic departments, we're in pretty good shape. You talk about financially, you talk about competitively. I met with all of our head coaches today and I told them, 'You are all great. And my job is to be sure you can be as good as you can possibly be.'"