Crook came to UT in 1974 to teach journalism and direct the Tennessee High School Press Association. He had previously taught at Iowa State University in Ames.In 1978 he was named director of the School of Journalism at UT. He also helped found the Front Page Follies in 1978.
Crook earned a bachelor's degree in 1961 and a master's degree in 1963 in journalism from the University of Iowa. In 1973, he earned his Ph.D. in higher education and mass communication from Iowa State University.