CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- David Blackburn traded in his Big Orange tie for one bearing the Blue and Gold of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on Monday.
The University of Tennessee senior associate athletic director was the first of three finalists for the Mocs' open athletic director to make his visit to campus this week. He received a thorough tour of the school and facilities before meeting with local media.
Wake Forest associated AD Mike Buddie will visit Tuesday and former North Carolina State and Middle Tennessee State athletic director Lee Fowler will be in town Wednesday.
Blackburn has 22 years of experience in intercollegiate athletics, all coming at UT. He currently oversees the Vols' football program and its budget, but has a wide-ranging background that he feels has prepared him for his first AD job.
"I feel like I'm competent, and it's important for a leader of a department to have a certain level of competency," he said. "I'm familiar with the culture and the city, so I feel like it's a natural fit.
"I think I have a chance to come in and identify areas of growth potential and have great impact as it relates to growing resources and promoting and selling the program. I'm prepared for that."
Blackburn said priority number one if hired is finding new head coaches for both men's and women's basketball, but he is already focusing on much larger goals, as well.
The Loudon, Tenn., native already knows plenty about the Chattanooga area, and spoke frequently about the "unbelievable" growth potential for UTC.
he described growth potential as "unbelievable."
"I really feel strongly that UTC is poised (for growth). You've seen it on the institutional side, and certainly the town has seen it," Blackburn said. "(The UTC athletic department) is ready to take another step as far as revenue and resources, and to grow in stature in the league it's currently in.
"Especially after meeting the people we have here and experiencing they're positive attitudes, I am energized."
While some Mocs' fans may not approve of Blackburn's ties to "big brother" Tennessee, Blackburn believes they can be an asset in Chattanooga that will help him hit the ground running as soon as he is hired.
"I come in understanding the state system. I think that is a strong suit of mine and can work to the advantage of UTC. But I'm not coming in saying it has to be this way or that way," Blackburn said. "I do have a way I will run the department, but I think it's wise to get in and visit and learn from what's happened here and what's happening now and then formulate a blueprint from there.
"There has been a lot of good that has occurred here, and I'm hoping to come in and expound on that."
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