It’s now official. Tennessee has hired Phillip Fulmer as their new director of athletics, effective immediately. It’s a two year deal for Fulmer — the former national championship winning head football coach of the Tennessee Volunteers.
Fulmer was announced today in Knoxville by Chancellor Beverly Davenport.
“It’s been a difficult week,” Davenport began. “It’s been a difficult road to get where we are. This has not been an easy process. I regret deeply any hurt that has been caused.”
“Early yesterday afternoon I asked John Currie to return to Knoxville before he continued his search. That request had nothing to do with any specific coach,” Davenport said.
Davenport later dodged a specific question about Mike Leach.
“Challenges require tough decisions. Today required one of those decisions. This morning I decided to make a change in leadership in our athletics department. It’s a decision I felt that was in the best interest of the University.”
“John Currie has been suspended and Phillip Fulmer has agreed to step in as our athletic director,” Davenport said. “We are here today to begin a new era. I asked Phillip to take the reigns of the search for our next head football coach.”
With that, Fulmer spoke publicly for the first time as Tennessee’s new AD.
“The University of Tennessee is a fantastic institution,” Fulmer began. “Our football program has the history, the facilities, tradition and the resources to play with anyone anytime. That’s what we’re going to do again. This is an important time in our history. It’s time that we all pull together to be a part of the solution. I am honored to have this opportunity.”
“We have been supported by the most passionate fanbase in the country. These great fans deserve teams that make them proud. It will not be easy — it will take some time — but we will succeed,” Fulmer said.
“We first must find us a coach that wants to be at Tennessee. Who appreciates the unique opportunity that we have to offer at this special place — who is driven to win at the highest level of college football. The kind of head coach that will honor our university’s values and be a role model for our student athletes.”
“I have been a part of this at its best. I have seen what honest communication, trust and hard work can achieve,” Fulmer said.
“Let’s go have fun winning championships,” Fulmer finished. Sounds good to me.
Fulmer said that he has not established a time table for a hire as of yet. He ruled himself out of the running, squashing any thought of Fulmer serving as the interim head coach.
The search has reset for a third time now, this time with a new leader. It was surreal to see Fulmer in front of the media once again in front of the ‘Power T’ background. It’s suddenly a new era for Tennessee athletics — let’s see if Fulmer can steer this football program out of the ashes.