athletics

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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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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UT restores ‘Lady Vols’ title to all women’s teams

University of Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie announced Thursday the return of the Lady Vols name, logo and brand for all women’s sports, reports the News Sentinel.

“We will not allow for the Lady Vol brand to disappear from our athletic department or the university,” Currie said during a press conference at the Ray & Lucy Hand Digital Studio.

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Prosecutor waits for comptroller audit of alleged ETSU racquet allegations

An East Tennessee State University internal audit has found that Yaser Zaatini, who resigned as tennis coach in March,  was involved in $106,000 worth of misdeeds and may have committed the crimes of theft, forgery and misconduct. But Washington County District Attorney is waiting for an audit by the state comptroller’s office before presenting the matter to a grand jury, reports the Johnson City Press.

 In his letter to ETSU President Brian Noland, obtained through a Tennessee Open Records request filed after his resignation was announced, Zaatini wrote “In conjunction with my resignation, I waive all annual leave accruals and have executed the enclosed promissory note promising to pay the university $31,293.13 consistent therewith. 

“In connection with this resignation I make no admission of malfeasance.”

…ETSU Board of Trustees member David Golden, head of the body’s Audit Committee, said the hall of fame coach was engaged in a “fairly sophisticated” scheme to falsify student-athletes’ signatures on meal expenditure forms and print phony receipts for restringing tennis racquets to be reimbursed for the costs. 

Tracing suspect transactions as far back as 2010, the university’s audit team estimated $85,674.61 in questionable expenses related to meal expenses, racquet stringing, registration fees and other expenditures. Auditors also tallied $20,747.63 in unreported annual leave they called into question. 

Even with the ETSU internal audit, Clark said if there were any charges, the state comptroller’s office would be the prosecuting agency, so he wanted to wait for that report before proceeding to the grand jury.

…“We want to make sure we have everything there might be before we move forward,” he said.