ARRINGTON, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee employed John Currie from 1997-2009 and the athletic department experienced great success.
The Vols won a national championship in 1998 and made a bowl appearance every season in football. The basketball team made back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16.
Currie addressed the dip in athletic performance at the Big Orange Caravan stop at The Barn at Sycamore Farms. He believes athletic success will return to Knoxville soon despite the poor 2016-17 season.
“I don’t think we are that far away,” Currie said. “I think we have a lot of great people in our department and certainly we’ve had outstanding leadership from our President Dr. (Joe) DiPietro and the Board of Trustees. We keep getting out and communicating, that’s what we do.”
Tennessee recently finished with a No. 46 ranking in the Director’s Cup, which tallies the total sports success for each Division 1 university. The No. 46 finish was the lowest for Tennessee; the previous low came in 2013-14 when the Vols finished No. 40.
Currie returns to Tennessee after being the athletic director at Kansas State from 2009-17.
Improving facilities and luring coaches became easier for all Power 5 schools over the past decade. This has made remaining a perennial athletic power more difficult for Tennessee.
The conference revenue sharing has helped even the playing field for the rest of the SEC. The 14 SEC schools received around $40 million from revenue sharing in the 2016 fiscal year.
“That business of improvement from across the higher education in general, but especially in our Power 5 and our league has made things more competitive than ever,” Currie said. “At the end of the day, what it comes back to is what’s most important from the beginning which is your people. Get your people all aligned in going in the same direction.”