Tennessee names former coach Phil Fulmer athletic director

Nick Bromberg
Phil Fulmer (center) will be tasked with finding the replacement for Butch Jones (L). (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Phil Fulmer (center) will be tasked with finding the replacement for Butch Jones (L). (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Phil Fulmer is replacing John Currie as Tennessee’s athletic director.

Currie was fired Friday morning amid the school’s tumultuous search for a new coach. Approximately six hours later, Fulmer was named as his replacement.

“I am confident that Phillip understands the need to support our student-athletes and our commitment to excellence in all athletic programs,” Tennessee chancellor Beverly Davenport said in a statement. “I appreciate his willingness to serve during this critical time.”

“No one better understands the storied history of Vol athletics and its deep connection to alumni and fans, and I believe he will be a unifying presence for all of us committed to the university’s success.”

Currie fired Butch Jones as the team’s coach with two games to go in the regular season. Tennessee finished the season 4-8 and 0-8 in the SEC.

Fulmer takes over the school’s coaching search, which appeared to be done on Sunday with the hire of Greg Schiano. But after a monstrous backlashone based on hearsay for many Tennessee fans — the school backed away from the Schiano hire.

UT flirted with other coaches after the Schiano fiasco and Currie apparently came close to hiring Washington State’s Mike Leach — even reportedly sending a memorandum of understanding between UT and Leach back to the school.

That happened Thursday night. Friday morning Currie was fired. And, reportedly, Fulmer was involved in that decision.

In a news conference Friday, Davenport said her request for Currie to return to Knoxville from the West Coast had “nothing to do with any specific coach,” rather it was a “series of events” that led to Friday’s decision. She also used the word “suspended” to describe Currie’s current status at Tennessee.

Currie was hired from Kansas State earlier in 2017. When Tennessee was starting its search that ultimately led the school to Currie, Fulmer was mentioned as a candidate for the job.

Fulmer had a 152–52 record as Tennessee’s coach from 1992-2008 including a 13-0 season and a national title in 1998. His quarterback that season was Tee Martin, the man who is currently USC’s offensive coordinator. Could Martin be a candidate at Tennessee? We’ll find out, as Fulmer’s search is likely to include different names than Currie’s search did.

“Turning our situation around will require teamwork,” Fulmer said. “We need energy, we need passion and focus from every Vol fan, alumni, coach and athlete. Let’s be so enthusiastic that we even win over the naysayers.”

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!