sports

Politicians cheer appointment of Fulmer as UT athletic director

Tennessee politicians are generally praising the appointment of former head football coach Phil Fulmer as athletics director at the University of Tennessee, reports the News Sentinel, but some are also voicing concerns about the future of the state’s flagship campus in Knoxville.

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TN politicans join fans in shooting down Schiano as UT head football coach; Haslam concerned about ‘rush to judgment’

State legislators and Tennessee gubernatorial candidates joined fans in a revolt that apparently derailed a tentative deal for making Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano the University of Tennessee’s next head football coach, according to media reports.

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Former ETSU tennis coach indicted on fraud and theft charges

Press release from state comptroller’s office

The Tennessee Comptroller’s Office has released an investigation that has resulted in the indictment of Yaser Zaatini, the former Director of Tennis and coach at East Tennessee State University (ETSU). The investigation was initiated after the ETSU Department of Internal Audit reported financial discrepancies in the tennis program.

Investigators determined that from September 2011 through February 2017, Zaatini misappropriated at least $45,540 from ETSU and often provided fabricated or altered documents to the ETSU Athletics Department. Zaatini used a variety of methods to misappropriate the money. Zaatini fabricated and submitted at least 65 fraudulent student athlete per diem documents, which often appeared to contain copies of student athletes’ signatures. The student athletes told investigators that they had neither signed the documents nor received the per diem payments. Zaatini received money to which he was not entitled.

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UT fires football coach Butch Jones, now owed about $8M

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville, winless this season in Southeastern Conference football play, has fired fifth-year coach Butch Jones with two games left in the regular season.

From ESPN:

“Late [Saturday] night, it was evident this was probably the direction we needed to go for the best of all concerned,” Tennessee athletic director John Currie said Sunday at a news conference. “We wanted our student-athletes to have the best possible chance for success. We want Coach Jones and his family to be treated with the dignity and respect that they deserve.

“We want to be able to focus, from my perspective, on the search going forward.”

Defensive line coach Brady Hoke will serve as the Volunteers’ interim head coach.

On Saturday, Tennessee was blown out 50-17 at Missouri for the Vols’ fifth loss in their past six games. Two weeks ago, they lost at Kentucky, marking only their second loss to the Wildcats in the past 33 years.

…Jones’ contract runs through March 2021. His buyout is around $8 million because he is owed $2.5 million per year remaining on his deal. That buyout will be mitigated by whatever salary he might earn in a new coaching job. Jones was making $4.11 million per year at Tennessee.

Anthem flap inspires Haslam bashing by Beavers, Breitbart

Former Sen. Mae Beavers, now running for governor, and Breitbart News are making an issue of the Haslam family’s comments on the ongoing national anthem controversy in the National Football League. Beavers says Randy Boyd, one of her GOP primary opponents, should return any contributions received from the governor’s family.

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Peyton Manning: No to Senate race, yes to Alzheimer’s research

Football star Peyton Manning told a Nashville sports radio station Wednesday that he won’t run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, according to the Associated Press.

“I certainly have an interest in politics and in our country,” the former NFL and University of Tennessee quarterback told WGFX-FM. “I just have zero interest in being a politician.”

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Anthem protests inspire TN legislation; Titans boycott by one senator

Citing cases of “overt disrespect to our national anthem and flag,” State Rep. Judd Matheny has filed legislation that would block state government from providing funding or economic incentives to professional sport teams and privately-owned amateur teams. Matheny, R-Tullahoma, is currently a candidate for the 6th Congressional District seat.

State Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, meanwhile, says he’s boycotting Tennessee Titans games and will donate funds equal to the cost of five tickets to charities.

News releases from both legislators are below.

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Haslam backs both sides in sports controversies (well, sorta)

Gov. Bill Haslam offers decidedly middle-of-the-road comments on the controversy over NFL football player national anthem protests in a lengthy interview with The Tennessean on sports and politics – a contrast to his brother, James A. “Jimmy” Haslam III.

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