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Phillip Fulmer Named New UT Athletic Director

Phillip Fulmer/Sports Illustrated
Phillip Fulmer Named New UT Athletic Director
Nick Davis

The University of Tennessee and Chancellor Beverly Davenport announced Friday afternoon that Tennessee legend Phillip Fulmer will replace John Currie as athletic director effective immediately. Fulmer moves to the position after serving as the special advisor to president Joe DiPietro for community, athletics and university relations for four months.

Davenport opened up and apologized to the fanbase for any hurt the search has caused was quoted as saying:

I am confident that Phillip understands the need to support our student-athletes and our commitment to excellence in all athletic programs. I appreciate his willingness to serve during this critical time. No one better understands the storied history of Vol athletics and its deep connection to alumni and fans, and I believe he will be a unifying presence for all of us committed to the university’s success.”

Fulmer is the second-winningest coach in Tennessee football history, compiling a 152-52 career record in 17 seasons. Highlights of his career include the 1998 BCS National Championship and 1997-1998 SEC titles. He also was named the 1998 Coach of the Year.

Currie, reportedly, went “rogue” Thursday and was eventually found to have landed out on the West Coast to interview candidates. Reports then came out last night that a deal was close to being finalized with Tennessee and Washington State head coach Mike Leach. That apparently fell through.

“Early yesterday afternoon, I asked John Currie to return to Knoxville before going on the with the search,” Davenport said in the press conference. Currie continued with the search and a meeting was called at 9 a.m. this morning with Davenport, only to find out he had been relieved of his duties.

Currie’s first and major mistake occurred on Sunday afternoon when reports surfaced that Currie and Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano agreed on a deal to become the next head coach. However, questions and public backlash about his involvement with the Jerry Sandusky-Penn State rape scandal from fans, businesses and state legislators caused the deal to fall through.

Tuesday was a different story, as Currie met with Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy. Currie offered a contract of approximately $7M/year, but Gundy turned it down and tweeted this:

On early Wednesday afternoon, WNML’s own Jimmy Hyams reported that Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm had reached a deal with Tennessee. However, there were conflicting reports from several Purdue beat writers saying that there had been no such deal. In addition, Purdue commit Elijah Ball received a text from Brohm saying the reports were false and that he was staying.

John Brice later reported that there in fact was a deal between Currie and Brohm, but for some reason, it was pulled off the table due to a disagreement from either Davenport or DiPietro about paying the buyout. Currie then, reportedly, offered a lower contract and Brohm declined. Other reports then came out saying that Currie never even met with Brohm face-to-face, so who knows what really happened there.

In addition, fans chanted “Hire Kiffin” and “Fire Currie” throughout the UT-Mercer basketball game Wednesday night. One student was pulled from the crowd and eventually slammed to ground by security for having a sign and being involved with the chants. Reports later came out that the student broke his arm, which was just another sign of unrest and displeasure from the fanbase towards Currie.

The week finally came to a somewhat positive conclusion Friday when Currie was relieved and Fulmer took his place. Davenport refused to answer anymore questions surrounding Currie or the search.

There are still many questions surrounding the search and where the athletic department goes from here, but one thing is for sure — Fulmer is a Tennessee guy and is ready to see the football program ascend back to its rightful place.

 

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Nick Davis
@NickDavisK

Nick is our multimedia guy from Maryville, Tennessee. He writes articles, produces videos, and is our access guy for UT. He played tennis at Carson-Newman. He loves sports, lifting, and Jeopardy.

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