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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)
Two weeks after officially taking over as chancellor at the University of Tennessee, Beverly Davenport made her first major hire.
Davenport on Tuesday named John Currie as the school's new director of athletics and vice chancellor.
Currie, 45, has spent the past eight years as the athletic director at Kansas State. He begins his duties at UT on April 1.
Currie is replacing Dave Hart, who announced his retirement on Aug. 18 after six years at UT.
Before Kansas State, Currie worked within the UT athletic administration in various capacities, including chief deputy and adviser to then-UT AD Mike Hamilton. He received his master's degree from UT in sports management in 2003.
"We are extremely pleased to announce John as our new vice chancellor and director of athletics," Davenport said in a school release. "This is truly an exciting day for the University of Tennessee and our athletics department. As I said when we began this process, we were looking for the best candidate, and we feel strongly that we have him in John Currie. John exemplifies all the qualities we were seeking in an athletics director. He is a man of high integrity, strong values, a progressive thinker, he fully understands the importance of being compliant in everything we do, and he is a leader who will put the well-being of our student-athletes above everything."
UT will formally introduce Currie during a news conference on Thursday at Thompson-Boling Arena.
He was earning $775,000 at Kansas State. Last April, Currie agreed to a two-year contract extension through 2022.
UT did not release contract terms.
"It is a very exciting time for my family and me as we return to a place that remains very special to us," Currie said in the release. "We spent 10 years in Knoxville prior to taking the job at K-State, and I appreciate Chancellor Davenport and the University of Tennessee for providing us this special opportunity. As a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I know how much UT athletics means to the people in the state, and I look forward to serving all of the Big Orange Nation, its wonderful coaches, staff and student-athletes, for many years to come. We are excited to return to Rocky Top."
UT is required to give Hart 15 days notice to accelerate his retirement and place him on paid administrative leave. Hart's contract runs through Sept. 20, 2018, with a base salary of $622,218 and total compensation topping $800,000.
UT hired Turnkey Sports & Entertainment to conduct the AD search at a cost of $75,000, plus expenses. Executive Director Gene DeFilippo, a former Boston College AD, headed the search for Turnkey.
The candidates were vetted by a UT search committee consisting of former UT quarterback great Peyton Manning; UT trustee and alumnus Charlie Anderson; UT alumnus Jimmy Haslam, the CEO of Pilot Flying J and owner of the Cleveland Browns; senior associate athletics director Donna Thomas; and professor Donald Bruce, UT's faculty representative for the SEC and the NCAA.
Under Currie, Kansas State is one of two dozen in the country to operate in the black without any state tax or university tuition dollars or subsidies. The athletics department eliminated approximately $3 million in annual state and direct university funding of intercollegiate athletics.
Kansas State has completed $210 million comprehensive facility improvements, all privately funded with no state tax or university tuition dollars.
In Currie's eight years at Kansas State, the athletic success has seven straight bowl appearances by the football program, Big 12 championships in football (2012), men's basketball (2013) and baseball (2013), 47 individual Big 12 and eight NCAA titles in track and field, five men's basketball NCAA tournament appearances, three in women's basketball, four in volleyball and three in baseball. In the past seven years, 137 student-athletes have earned All-American distinction, while Wildcats have won nine NCAA individual titles and 50 Big 12 titles.
Kansas State's fundraising efforts were overhauled under Currie's leadership, with more than $200 million in cash contributions raised for athletics - more money than had been raised in the previous 48 years combined.
Currie was the recipient of the 2013 Bobby Dodd AD Award and a 2013 UnderArmour AD of the Year award. He has served as the chair of the Big 12 athletic directors in 2013-14 and is a member of the NCAA Division I administrative cabinet.
Currie joined the UT staff in 1997 as executive director of the Volunteer Athletic Scholarship Fund. Following a two-year stint at his alma mater Wake Forest, Currie returned to Knoxville in 2000 as assistant athletics director for development.
He was promoted to associate athletics director for development at UT in 2002. At UT, Currie managed the coaching search that resulted in the hiring of Bruce Pearl in 2005. He also helped lead the search for UT baseball coach Todd Raleigh and football coach Lane Kiffin.
Currie's accomplishments at UT included helping the university secure major financial commitments for academic and athletic needs and negotiating multimedia rights and apparel contacts. Under his leadership, giving to UT athletics doubled from $19.5 million in 2003 to $41.6 million in 2008.
Currie worked on the facility planning teams for renovations at Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena and oversaw the Pratt Pavilion basketball practice facility construction project.
Currie and his wife, Mary Lawrence, have three children, Jack, Virginia and Mary-Dell.
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