Univ. of Tennessee AD Danny White was hired in January and has since "hired a football coach in Josh Heupel, hired a large number of athletic department staffers and made significant changes to Tennessee’s gameday experience," according to David Ubben of THE ATHLETIC. Prior to Tennessee's season-opening 38-6 win over Bowling Green at Neyland Stadium on Thursday, White discussed many subjects about what to expect in Year 1. Below are excerpts from the conversation, some of which have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q: What is your role in making that change a good one for Tennessee in getting it back to where you want it to be?
White: I think 25 years ago, Tennessee compared to our peers, probably had more advantages. And we need to get back to that. So that’s infrastructure, how we operate and how we support our coaches and student-athletes. There’s not one thing, there’s 100 things.
Q: Gameday experiences, you’ve talked a lot about wanting to innovate. Where did some of these ideas come from?
White: From the AD chair, my role in innovation is primarily to be encouraging it. If I’m coming up with all the ideas, I don’t think you guys are going to like that. I’m constantly going to be encouraging that and asking folks to think differently. But there’s things we need to do to copycat a little bit. Obviously, we’re not the first college football program to put LED lights in our stadium, but it’s another tool for our creative people to use to provide a show and we want to make sure our gameday experience in the stadium and around it is unique and special -- and it has been, but that needs to always evolve.
Q: What were the lessons you learned in the first couple months of [NIL]?
White: Nobody knows what’s going to happen. ... For years, my whole career I’d talk about their brand and being responsible with social media and understanding the spotlight and platform they have upon them and making sure they’re being responsible with all those things. That’s important. I hope they listened to that when I talked to them, but now that there’s a potential monetary benefit, companies aren’t interested in sponsoring athletes who make mistakes on a Friday night (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/2).