Tennessee Team News

Ex-Vols assistant Doug Mathews: Phillip Fulmer had no chance to be UT’s AD

Jan 10, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers former head coach Phil Fulmer introduces the AFCA Coaches Trophy presented by Amway at the Grand Ole Opry House. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Jim Brown/USA TODAY Sports

Former Tennessee assistant coach and current Nashville radio-show host Doug Mathews said Tuesday that former Vols coach Phillip Fulmer never was a real candidate for the Tennessee AD job.

Mathews joined “The Midday 180” on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville to discuss the recent hiring of John Currie as the Vols’ AD and says the decision was made by billionaire booster Jim Haslam.

“Bottom line, this was Jim Haslam’s hire – 100 percent,” Mathews, who worked alongside Fulmer as a Vols assistant for 10 seasons (1980-89), said on the show. “She (new chancellor Beverly Davenport) had no say in that. Now she probably had a say in picking which one. But we all knew who it wasn’t going to be.”

Mathews said he believes Fulmer and Chattanooga AD David Blackburn – like Currie, a former Tennessee assistant AD – unfairly were led to believe they had a chance at the job. Fulmer was interviewed by the search firm, but Mathews said that was just a formality.

RELATED: Complex picture in Tennessee’s hiring of John Currie

“I don’t believe he ever had a shot at the job,” Mathews said. “I know 100 percent that he and David felt like they were going to get a sincere look. Nothing even close to that happened.”

Mathews said Vols booster Charles C. Anderson Jr., whose name is on the Volunteers’ football facility, was left out of the process because of his support for Fulmer. Mathews also said that North Carolina AD Bubba Cunningham was the top candidate, but once he withdrew from consideration, the focus turned to Currie.

Mathews said recent speculation about Currie’s disdain for Fulmer was real. Mathews said that when Currie was an assistant AD at Tennessee about a decade ago, Currie told boosters that Fulmer “was ‘a portly person who didn’t know who his father was.’ You can kind of figure out the slang from all of that.”

While Mathews said he’s not sure how Fulmer would have done as the school’s AD, he said he does believe Fulmer would have been able to unite the university community.

RELATED: Tennessee frustrates fans – again – with AD search

(You can follow Dan Mathews on Twitter @DanMathewsATL)

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