The University of Tennessee and its Board of Trustees are close to finalizing a multi-year contract for Phillip Fulmer as the athletics director. Fulmer has greatly energized UT athletics since being appointed to replace John Currie in the 11th hour of the Vols’ football coaching search late in 2017.
Currie has since been formally discharged from UT employment and collected terms on a $2.5 million settlement. That finality with Currie has cleared the last hurdle to position Fulmer into a longer-term role after his initial letter of appointment. University bylaws at the time Fulmer was inserted as Currie’s replacement stipulated that Fulmer, by appointment, was necessary until Currie’s exit had been finalized.
The deal is projected to be at least four years in length and should pay Fulmer more closely in line with his Southeastern Conference and Power-5 peers, in the $900,000 annually range.
Stepping up during his alma mater’s desperate time of need, with national public backlash and punchlines surrounding Currie’s failed search rampant, Fulmer – in short order – not only hired Jeremy Pruitt away from Alabama to be the Vols’ next head coach, but did so while earning a salary far below what is typical for an athletic director atop a program the scale of Tennessee’s and roughly half of Currie’s seven-figure pact.
Fulmer is among the headline speakers this weekend, along with David Cutcliffe and Peyton Manning, at Pruitt’s inaugural coaches’ clinic.
Since taking over late last year, Fulmer’s work repairing tattered relationships and unifying Rocky Top is undeniable. He’s mending fences in fundraising and recreating a spirit of unity throughout the athletic department.
Fulmer is also conducting important business with the Vols’ and Lady Vols’ coaches of all sports. UT is negotiating a raise and extension with men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes, the reigning SEC Coach of the Year and a national finalist, as well as examining the contract of women’s coach Holly Warlick.
(You can follow John Brice on Twitter @JohnDBrice1)
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