Former Vols Head Football Coach Lane Kiffin tells reporters he's leaving UT to for the head coaching job at USC.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) -- Former UT Head Football Coach Lane Kiffin resigned Tuesday to take the head football coaching job at USC.
According to his contract, Kiffin will have to pay the University of Tennessee $800,000 to get out of his agreement.
Kiffin coached the Vols to a 7-6 season during his first and only season with the team.
Kiffin refused to allow media outlets, including Volunteer TV, to broadcast a statement from him live to our viewers. After several complaints from reporters, Kiffin gave a brief statement that was recorded, but not broadcast live. He ignored questions from the media following his statement.
"This was not an easy decision, it's just something that happened very quick, and a decision that myself and my family made," Kiffin told a room full of reporters. "We've been here 14 months. The support has been unbelievable here."
As for the decision to leave UT, Kiffin said, "I really believe this is the only place that I would have left here to go-- was to go to Southern Cal."
UT students displayed banners, burned the "It's Time" T-shirts created at the onset of Kiffin's short tenure at UT. A tenure UT Athletics Director Mike Hamilton described simply as "brief."
"I feel like we gave him a chance at a great university with a great tradition," Hamilton said Wednesday during a news conference. "I will say this, he made the comment last night that he came to Tennessee and worked hard everyday, he did do that, I think he did some things in his brief tenure here, but if I said I was anything less than disappointed, not so much personal, I'm more disappointed for our kids and our fans."
The Big Orange went to the Chick-fil-A Bowl under Kiffin, but they lost to Virginia Tech.
Kiffin was hired after longtime coach Phillip Fulmer was fired following a 5-7 season.
"I'm very thankful to all the Tennessee people and the way they welcomed myself and my family," Kiffin said. "It's been an exciting time. and I know that I can walk out of here and say this: That we've been here for 14 months, and there's not been one day that I didn't give everything that I had to the Tennessee football program.
In a statement posted on the Tennessee Athletics website, UT Athletic Director Mike Hamilton said: "I want to thank Coach Kiffin for his work with our program this past year. We have already begun a search for the new head football coach of the Tennessee Volunteers and we'll complete this process as quickly as possible to put the right person in place to lead our great football program forward in the months and years ahead."
The UT Athletics department quickly removed the photos and biographies of Kiffin, his father and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, and assistant head coach Ed Orgeron from the department's Web site, UTSports.com. Blank, white space now occupies the slots where the team's top three coaches' pictures once were.
Orgeron and Monte Kiffin are both leaving, as well.
"We're leaving here, 14 months later, a lot better team than we were 14 months ago," Kiffin said.
Hamilton and interim head coach Kippy Brown both said a newly hired head coach would likely be announced by week's end.
For Brown's part, he says he's interested in the job.
"I think I'm a legitimate candidate for the job," he said during Wednesday's news conference with Hamilton. "The reason I say that is that I'm very confident in my ability to coach, to recruit. I've proven that when I was here before. I've coached at Tennessee on SEC championship teams."
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