Fulmer takes cut, vows to be true Volunteer at Tennessee
Posted: Monday, December 15, 2008 4:48 pm
By: By BETH RUCKER, Associated Press Writer
KNOXVILLE (AP) — Former Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer has chosen not to accept a position as a special assistant to university president John Petersen, the university announced Friday.
On Monday, Petersen said that Fulmer — who is being paid $6 million over the next four years for the buyout of his coaching contract — was being hired for three months with a privately funded salary of $37,500 to assist with fundraising and outreach efforts.
He also would have received the same benefits available to full-time Tennessee employees.
“I am sorry for any confusion, and I appreciate the university allowing me to take time to consider my retirement and insurance options,” Fulmer said in a statement. “It has always been my goal to do what’s right for this great university and bring Tennessee people together, and that’s what I will continue to do.”
The 58-year-old Fulmer said he will instead work as an alumni volunteer to help foster relationships with Tennessee donors.
On Tuesday, faculty at the Knoxville campus complained that Fulmer’s appointment was coming at a time when layoffs of non-tenure track faculty are being considered to meet up to $75 million in funding cuts by the state.
“I think it shows really good judgment on Phillip Fulmer,” faculty senate president John Nolt said. “That was a bad idea for John Petersen to offer him that position.”
Nolt said that despite Fulmer’s proposed salary being privately funded, trying to hire him sent the “wrong message at the wrong time.”
“No administrative function is as important as the teaching of students,” he said.
Fulmer announced Nov. 3 that he would not return as coach after the 2008 season at the university’s request.
Fulmer is regarded as one of the all-time coaching greats in not only the history of the UT football program, but in the Southeastern Conference and college football abroad.
He led the Volunteers to the 1998 national championship and his team was in the SEC championship game as recently as 2007 when they lost to eventual national chamion LSU by a small margin.
Fulmer has indicated that he would like to return to coaching eventually should the proper job present itself. That job would have to entail a program with a similar passion of that at Tennessee.
Petersen said the university moved quickly in arranging the deal, which didn’t need to be finalized until Friday.
“In the days following our announcement, Phillip had the time he needed to consider it further,” Petersen said. “The university values Phillip’s ability to unite and motivate his fellow alumni, and we will continue to seek ways to make the best use of his talents.”
Former Oakland Raiders’ coach Lane Kiffin was hired to replace Fulmer as the Volunteers’ mentor. He has already begun his recruiting pitch.