KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee is experiencing turnover atop its administrative leadership like never before, and history shows that can lead to a trickle-down effect into athletics.
Volunteers athletic director and College Football Hall of Fame coach Phillip Fulmer referenced at a recent luncheon how it affected the football program when UT went through five school presidents between 1999 and 2004.
Earlier this year, on the Paul Finebaum show, Fulmer said of his tenure:
“We had four presidents in six years. There was no continuity on campus. And all of the sudden, instead of everybody communicating and everybody trusting each other and everybody working together to an end like you see at the programs at the highest level now, it became a program struggle.”
Tennessee faces the prospect of replacing, in a one-year span, its athletic director (Dec. 1), football coach (Dec. 7), chancellor (May 2), board of trustees member (July 1) and president (pending early departure).
Many believe the Haslam family remains a key influence on the University of Tennessee administration, regardless of who fills the roles.
The Haslams have played a major role in the growth of East Tennessee with their philanthropy and business operations. Bill Haslam has enjoyed a successful tenure as Tennessee’s governor, while Jimmy Haslam owns the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.
Fulmer recently signed a four-year contract, but his future could be affected by the new chancellor — provided the position remains in an athletic department oversight role — and the new president.
Thus, for Tennessee to truly achieve stability after this round of administrative changes, it’s imperative that the Haslams and Fulmer are on the same page.
Mike Griffith and WNML’s Josh Ward discuss the politics of the Tennessee administration in this edition of the podcast.
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