CHATTANOOGA (WRCB/UTC) -- The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga announced Thursday three finalists for its vacant athletic director position.
The trio, which will be invited to campus for a series of interviews next week, includes:
• David Blackburn, Senior Associate Athletics Director, University of Tennessee
• Mike Buddie, Associate Athletics Director, Wake Forest University
• Lee Fowler, Director of Basketball Operations, Sun Belt Conference
"The committee has been very pleased with the high level of interest in this position, and we believe we have three great finalists," search committee chair Dr. Debbie Ingram said in a statement through the school. "Our committee includes representatives from the campus and the community, so many voices have been represented in this process.
"I believe the high caliber of candidates who applied for this job is a testament to the strength of our University and athletics programs."
Blackburn is currently a member of Tennessee's executive staff and is responsible for the overall leadership of the athletics department. His primary duties include overseeing the football program's operations and budget.
The 1990 graduate of UT began working with then-football coach Phillip Fulmer in 1993 in a variety of roles within the football program. He has worked as the Assistant Director of Compliance, Director of Football Operations, and Assistant Athletics Director for Football Operations during his two-year tenure in Knoxville.
In 2007, Blackburn was promoted to Associate Athletic Director for Administration, which includes the oversight of the track and field program, the swimming and diving teams, facility operations, sports medicine, strength and conditioning, equipment operations, and event management. He became Senior Associate Athletic Director for Administration a year later, shifting his duties to oversight of the football program and its finances.
Buddie spent 13 years as a professional baseball player, including stints with the New York Yankees (1998-99) and Milwaukee Brewers (2000-03), before returning to his alma mater in 2005.
His primary work at Wake Forest has been as a major gift fund raiser, but he also assists with special projects, key fund raising initiatives, contract negotiations, conference expansion, personnel decisions and development of the Wake Forest Athletics Department Strategic Plan.
In his current role, Buddie serves as the sport administrator for baseball, women's soccer and men's and women's golf squads, and works with the football and men's basketball programs. He also supervises the Wake Forest Golf Academy, the Wake Forest Tennis Club, Winston Open ATP Tennis event staff, facilities, Capital Project Construction Team and the Operations Department.
Fowler is a former athletic director at both Middle Tennessee State and North Carolina State, and was named the Southeast Regional Athletics Director of the Year while with the Wolfpack in 2010. In addition to his current post as Director of Basketball Operations for the Sun Belt, he was the chair of the NCAA Men's Basketball Committee in 2002.
Fowler directed MTSU's move from Division I-AA football to Division-I while in Murfreesboro in 1999, and was responsible for a complete restructure in the athletics department to comply with NCAA rules.
He later moved to Raleigh, where he oversaw the completion of a $133 million athletics building campaign and focused on fundraising for the entire athletics program during his decade at NC State.
UTC Interim athletic director Laura Herron has said the school would like to make a permanent hire by the end of April, so a decision could be made in the next two weeks.
The new hire will enter with a lengthy to-do list, starting with hiring a new head coach for both the men's and women's basketball programs.
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