Twice this week, John Currie was on the verge of making astoundingly unpopular hires atop the University of Tennessee football program.
Currie isn’t going to receive an opportunity to make a third such blunder. UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport, despite her awareness of Currie’s attempt to hire Greg Schiano last Sunday, fired Currie Friday morning, just hours after Currie returned home from what sources said was an unsanctioned West Coast trip.
Multiple sources with direct connections to the University of Tennessee and its leadership said today that UT is expected to separate from Currie with cause, a move which would nullify Currie’s prodigious buyout.
On the job since just April 1, Currie had entered his time atop UT athletics as the Southeastern Conference’s highest-paid athletics director at $1.315 million and with an opportunity to earn an additional $300,000 annually in bonus compensation. Currie’s buyout, if terminated without cause, was projected to be more than $5 million.
But as Tennessee seeks to escape from a weeklong nightmare that’s featured Currie and UT leaders being rejected by multiple coaching candidates, as well as rumors of infighting and agendas among boosters and university leaders, not to mention unprecedented criticism on the Haslam family and the school’s apparent lack of involvement thus far with minority candidates, nothing is stable on Rocky Top.
Davenport is holding a 4:00 PM ET press conference today on the UT campus to insert Phillip Fulmer, the College Hall of Famer and former national championship-winning coach, atop the athletics program.
The other choice considered to replace Currie per people on campus was Reid Sigmon, Currie’s No. 2 and chief lieutenant. Multiple sources said that Sigmon was backed by Jimmy Haslam while Fulmer possessed resounding support among other constituencies, including boosters John ‘Thunder’ Thornton and Charlie Anderson.
Some national reports are indicating Fulmer is in this position after refusing to help the UT search, and actively trying to sabotage it, but sources indicate to me that Fulmer only finds himself in this spot after Currie’s “lone wolf” approach and refusal to tap into Fulmer’s assistance during the search beyond some phone calls.
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