John Currie on leave with pay

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics at the University of Tennessee John Currie has been placed on leave with pay.

The exhausting coaching search has caused tension and uncertainty between fans and staff. After nearly a week of misfires, Chancellor Beverly Davenport said in a news conference on Friday that she asked Currie to return to Knoxville Thursday afternoon before continuing his search for the new head coach.

"Challenges require tough decisions, and today required one of those decisions," Davenport said of her decision to put Currie on indefinite paid leave.

"We're here today to begin a new era and move our university athletic department forward," Davenport said. "I've asked Phillip Fulmer to take the reins of this [head coach] search."

Davenport said she has changed the athletic department leadership for the best interest of the university. Fulmer said that he's "honored to have this opportunity" from Davenport.

"I've been charged to find the right coach for this circumstance," Fulmer said. "We need to be on the same page going forward, not looking back on the last nine years."

RELATED: Report: Fulmer to serve as UT athletic director

Davenport refused to answer questions about the search for a new head coach in wake of news about Currie on Friday.

"I don't want to talk about coaches, I don't want to talk about the process. ... It's been a long week," she said, adding that she asked Fulmer to step in to handle the search.

Another question concerning reports about Currie meeting with Washington State head coach Mike Leach was met with a similar answer.

"I'm not going to talk about coaches at schools, or any other place," Davenport said.

Currie was named to his positions on February 28, 2017, and began his duties on April 1, 2017.

Currie previously served as the director of athletics at Kansas State, but he earned his master's degree from UT and served the school's athletic department in various capacities from 1997-98 and 2000-09, including his involvement in external operations, development, capital project management, marketing and ticketing. He previously left UT in May 2009 to accept the AD position at Kansas Sate.

Currie's first football game at the university while serving in his position as AD was on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017.

Fast forward to Wednesday night, when 'Fire Currie' chants echoed at Thompson-Boling Arena as Vol fans took their disappointment in Tennessee football to the basketball arena. Students told Local 8 News their passionate thoughts on the search for a replacement for Butch Jones, who was relieved of the university's head football coach position on Nov. 12.

"It's a train wreck," Reed Reynolds said. "We're just a laughing stock," Sanderson Wall said. "It's embarrassing, really," Taylor Patterson said.


Those are only some of the thoughts reflected in students' minds after an exhausting week of searching for a new football coach. Since Sunday's debacle concerning the potential hire of Greg Schiano, "The Rock" on UT's campus has featured messages like "#FireCurrie" nearly every day.

Since Sunday, a running list of candidates who have reportedly turned down the coaching position has expanded to include John Gruden of ESPN's Monday Night Football, David Cutcliffe of Duke, Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State University, Jeff Brohm of Purdue, Dan Mullen, who took the position at Florida, Chad Morris of Southern Methodist University and Dave Doeren of N.C. State.

On top of the list of candidates who have shut down the Tennessee position, the university still owes Butch Jones $8.257 million as a result of his contract buyout. Jones was hired on Dec. 7, 2012. He left a 34-27 record upon his firing.

2017 was the worst season in UT football history, with a record of 4-8, and 0-8 in the SEC.

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