Top candidates to replace Phillip Fulmer as Tennessee athletics director

Mike Wilson
Knoxville News Sentinel

Tennessee athletics is looking for a new athletics director after Monday's announcement that Phillip Fulmer will be retiring after a successor is named.

The successor will take charge of hiring Tennessee's next football coach after Jeremy Pruitt was fired.

Here are names to know:

Jon Gilbert

Current job: East Carolina athletics director 

The skinny: Gilbert has been an athletics director for the past four years — two at Southern Miss and two at ECU — after a lengthy stint in the Tennessee athletic department. 

Gilbert worked at Tennessee for six years as executive senior associate athletics director under former Vols athletics director Dave Hart. He departed for the athletics director position at Southern Miss in January 2017. Gilbert, a Lenoir-Rhyne and Eastern Kentucky graduate, was viewed by some as a candidate to take over for Hart, who retired from UT in June 2017.

He also worked at Alabama for nearly 17 years, including an associate athletics director role from 2009-11 before he followed Hart from Alabama to UT.

He did have some recent issues at ECU after cutting women's swimming and diving and women's tennis in May amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The programs were reinstated Jan. 7. ESPN reported members of both teams had threatened a class-action lawsuit in November, as they believed the decision violated Title IX.

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Mark Ingram

Current job: UAB athletics director

The skinny: Ingram has been the UAB athletics director since May 2015. He oversaw the reinstatement of UAB football.

Ingram played football for Fulmer at Tennessee, where he received his bachelor's degree in sport management and his master's degree in sport administration. He worked at Tennessee for five years, including a role in fundraising and planning.

He worked at Temple for three years, including two as associate vice president and executive senior associate athletics director. He worked at Georgia and Missouri prior to his tenure at Tennessee.

Gerald Harrison

Current job: Austin Peay athletics director

The skinny: Harrison was appointed Austin Peay's athletics director in July 2018. He spent a decade at Duke in multiple capacities prior to being hired at Austin Peay.

Harrison's roles at Duke included associate athletics director for football development and associate athletics director for human resources. He spent his final five years at Duke as the senior associate athletics director for internal affairs.

Harrison, who earned his bachelor's degree from Tennessee in 2001, was the director of community relations at UT from 2001-04 and director of high school relations for the Vols from 2005-07. Harrison left Duke to take over as athletics director at Austin Peay. 

David Blackburn

Current job: Middle Tennessee State senior associate athletics director for external affairs 

The skinny: Blackburn has spent his career working in Tennessee at UT, Chattanooga and Middle Tennessee State.

He was the athletics director at Chattanooga from April 2013 through June 2017, when he resigned. Blackburn served as a consultant for a year before he was hired to a senior staff position at MTSU in June 2018. He oversees external operations for the athletic department, including development and marketing.

Blackburn worked at Tennessee in many administrative roles across two decades, including as a senior associate athletics director from 2009-13. He also was the sport administrator for football.

Blackburn is a 1990 UT graduate and a Loudon native.

Mikki Allen

Current job: Tennessee State athletics director

The skinny:Allen was hired as the Tennessee State athletics director in April 2020.

Allen worked at Tennessee for more than a decade prior to being appointed the head of the Tennessee State athletic department. He has a background in college athletics, entrepreneurship, academics and development within UT's athletics administration.

Allen was a member of the 1998 national championship Tennessee football team under Fulmer. He received his master’s degree in sports management and administration from TSU in 2007.

Bryan Maggard

Current job: Louisiana athletics director

The skinny: Maggard has been the Louisiana athletics director since February 2017. He has run the department, which has experienced major football success under coach Billy Napier.

Prior to being hired at Louisiana, Maggard spent 21 years at Missouri. His final role at Missouri was as the Tigers’ executive associate athletics director.

Scott Carter

Current job: ETSU athletics director

The skinny: Carter took over as the ETSU athletics director in October 2017. He has worked at ETSU since late 2014, with key roles in the football program's relaunch in 2015, a new football stadium in 2017 and athletic department fundraising efforts.

He spent 10 years working at UT in the athletic development office.

Carter, who played football at ETSU and was a team captain, earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ETSU. 

Reid Sigmon

Current job: Deputy athletics director/chief operating officer at UT 

The skinny: Sigmon came to Knoxville from Kansas State with ex-Vols athletic director John Currie in May 2017. He was kept on by Fulmer after Currie was fired in December 2017.

Sigmon has a grasp on the ins and outs of the athletic department and has been a behind-the-scenes stabilizing force in recent years. Sigmon worked at Kansas State  from 2009-13, rising to the post of senior associate athletics director and chief operating officer.

He also has worked in various capacities in sporting events, including as chief financial officer for the College Football Playoff.

Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at and follow him on Twitter @ByMikeWilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.