In the end, a six-month journey to Tennessee’s next athletic director finished with many of the qualities fans and administrators wanted: a sitting athletic director with ties to the university. But it’s a different name than many of us expected.
BREAKING NEWS: Source: John Currie of Kansas State has been hired as Tennessee's new athletic director.— Jimmy Hyams (@JimmyHyams) February 28, 2017
Currie served in Tennessee’s athletic department from 1997-2008, rising in the ranks to associate athletic director working heavily with Bruce Pearl’s basketball program in Mike Hamilton’s athletic department. He left to become the athletic director at Kansas State, coming on board in May 2009 after the football program had brought back Bill Snyder in the fall of 2008. Kansas State’s official site begins Currie’s bio with an emphasis on his financial work:
Since John Currie’s introduction as director of athletics in May 2009, K-State has experienced a tremendous turnaround, unprecedented athletic and academic accomplishments and perhaps the most successful seven-year period in department history. Driving toward the vision of a Model Intercollegiate Athletics Program, Currie’s rebuilt senior leadership team turned an inherited deficit into national acclaim as one of the NCAA’s most financially solvent programs and by August 2016 will have completed $210 million in comprehensive facility improvements benefitting all 16 Wildcat teams, including the Vanier Family Football Complex, West Stadium Center, Basketball Training Facility, Intercollegiate Rowing Facility, Mike Goss Tennis Stadium and soccer competition/football practice fields, all privately funded with zero state tax or university tuition dollars.
Currie was mentioned as a possibility early in this process; in the last six months with no chancellor there have been plenty of rumors but, as it turns out, little actual substance. This means no Phillip Fulmer, and no David Blackburn, a favorite of many for checking off so many of the boxes Currie does. Currie’s degree is from Wake Forest, but he worked alongside Blackburn during a flourishing time in the Tennessee athletic department.
Blackburn (and possibly Fulmer, for different reasons) would have received more initial fanfare, but Currie does have Tennessee experience and power five experience, which seemed to clearly separate him in the eyes of a search committee that included Peyton Manning. This is the first big athletics-related move for new chancellor Beverly Davenport, which at the very least does a nice job of creating a positive compromise and hopefully a consensus with all involved.
We await official word on when Currie’s tenure will begin, and hope this is the beginning of a more fruitful season for Tennessee’s athletic department.