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Freedom of Information request reveals details of Phil Fulmer’s contract

Tennessee AD Phillip Fulmer

Outlined in a 29-page document obtained by Gridiron Now via a Freedom of Information request, Phillip Fulmer has numerous bonus opportunities, an additional $60,000-plus in de facto annual income aside from his specified salary, and a downward-escalating buyout clause in his four-year pact with the University of Tennessee to serve as athletic director.

Perhaps coincidentally, Fulmer inked the contract – as did then-Chancellor Beverly Davenport – on April 18 which specified first and foremost that he report directly to the chancellor. Davenport was shamed out of office via a scathing rebuke from UT President Dr. Joe DiPietro two weeks to the day after Fulmer formally signed on for an extended tenure.

Fulmer’s salary includes $900,000 in base and supplemental pay, and he also earns an annual $100,000 retention bonus for each year he is UT’s A.D. through December 31. Not included as part of Fulmer’s salary is an annual non-accountable expense plan for $40,000; this money is guaranteed for Fulmer and also will be taxed as standard income.

Additionally, Fulmer can nab an extra $20,400 for a vehicle stipend — $1,700 per month.

A particular sticking-point per numerous sources during contract negotiations, Fulmer’s pact includes a prorated, stair-stepping buyout that decreases on the dollar throughout Fulmer’s tenure. Fulmer gets .50 on the dollar of his guaranteed $900,000 base salary through Dec. 31, 2020. However, that number dips to 33 percent of that $900,000 figure across Fulmer’s final year of the deal, which runs 1-1-2021 through 12-31-21.

Should the buyout be enacted, Fulmer would still receive monthly payments similar to his current format through the end of the contract’s term.

RELATED: Why Darrin Kirkland decided to stay at Tennessee after announcing transfer decision.

The contract would seem to indicate Davenport had no knowledge of her impending ouster as contract language pertaining to Fulmer reporting to the Chancellor references “the Chancellor shall not unreasonably withhold or condition her approval of Fulmer’s proposed outside activities.” Per the deal, Fulmer – a compelling speaker who’s routinely earned honorariums for his speaking work in the past – can continue to receive payment for appearances/talks, per Article IV of the deal. Fulmer was required to disclose all standing such arrangements to Davenport as part of his initial contract and would need written approval from UT in the event of a new such instance.

UT outlines nearly 30 reasons for which it could “terminate Fulmer with cause,” but the deal also grants Fulmer the right to resign, without penalty, at any time during the term.

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