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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)
Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer has received a four-year contract worth more than $1 million annually, the university announced Thursday.
Fulmer had been working as an at-will employee since replacing John Currie on Dec. 1.
"I think anybody that knows me reasonably well can tell I'm excited about doing this," Fulmer said Thursday. "I was excited about doing it before. I have to balance that. I don't want to be here 18 hours a day like I did coaching. I don't have to be. There's good people around me. But I'm going to spend the time and the effort to get it to where I want it to be. I'm committed to that."
Fulmer said he doesn't intend to make any major shakeups within the senior athletic department staff that he inherited.
Fulmer's contract will run through Dec. 31, 2021. His annual salary is comprised of his base salary ($300,000), supplemental pay ($600,000) and a yearly retention bonus ($100,000) that's due if he remains AD on Dec. 31 each year throughout the duration of his contract. And he'll receive $40,000 annually in compensation for expenses.
He's also eligible for up to $300,000 annually in performance bonuses. Those bonus figures will be determined by Tennessee's graduation success rate and its standing in the Directors' Cup.
"Phillip has been a great partner over the last four months and I commend him for the work he has done with our student-athletes, coaches and staff," Chancellor Beverly Davenport said in a news release. "Phillip has been connected to the University of Tennessee and its athletics program for more than 40 years and he understands the expectations we have for our athletics department."
Fulmer's buyout, if he were to be terminated without cause, is substantially less lucrative than the buyout for Currie, who was owed $5.5 million when he was ousted Dec. 1 with 41/2 years remaining on his contract. Currie and UT reached a $2.5 million settlement last month.
If Fulmer were to be fired without cause before Jan. 1, 2021, he'd be owed 50 percent of the remaining base salary and supplemental pay he's owed. The buyout drops to 33 percent of his remaining base salary and supplemental pay beginning in 2021.
Fulmer would face no penalty if he terminated the contract.
Fulmer had been working under an at-will agreement worth $575,000 annually since taking over for Currie. Fulmer's contract has a retroactive start date of Dec. 1. He's owed about $125,000 in back-pay to compensate for the difference in his at-will salary and his new salary figure.
Davenport replaced Currie amid his chaotic football coaching search that had become a national punchline.
Fulmer took the reins of the search and hired Jeremy Pruitt, who was Alabama's defensive coordinator. Since then, Fulmer hired volleyball coach Eve Rackham and awarded contract extensions to soccer coach Brian Pensky and track and field coach Beth Alford.
Fulmer, the former Vols football coach who led UT to a national title during the 1998 season, had been a candidate for athletic director when Tennessee opted to hire Currie from Kansas State. Currie's tenure lasted eight months.
After not receiving the AD post last spring, Fulmer was hired in June as a special adviser to UT President Joe DiPietro.
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