Ex-Tennessee AD Currie Still on Payroll

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Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)


More than one month after University of Tennessee Athletic Director John Currie was replaced and suspended with pay, the university said his employment status hasn't changed and he continues to earn his full salary.

Currie was suspended Dec. 1 after eight months on the job and in the midst of the search for a new head football coach.

UT Knoxville Vice Chancellor for Communications Ryan Robinson said Thursday that Currie's status hasn't changed.

"Yes, he remains suspended with pay," Robinson said in an email. "Regarding pay, benefits, and all other matters with respect to his employment, the university is operating in accordance with its employment agreement with Mr. Currie. There is no timetable."

Former head football coach Phil Fulmer was named athletic director at the time Currie was suspended.

In a letter to Fulmer, Chancellor Beverly Davenport said Currie was suspended with pay "pending an investigation or decision relating to termination of his Employment Agreement for cause."

The university has not given a reason why Currie was suspended.

Asked Thursday if any investigation into his conduct is taking place, Robinson said only that "nothing has changed."

The terms of Currie's contract include a $300,000 base pay salary as well as an additional $600,000 in supplemental pay each year, both to be paid in 12 equal installments throughout the year.

If he is fired without cause, Currie would be owed a buyout of $100,000 for every month left in his contract. Currently, that would mean a buyout of $5.4 million.

B. David Ridpath, associate professor of sports business at Ohio University, told the USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee last month it's unlikely Currie would sue the university if he is fired without cause, since it wouldn't look good to prospective employers.

If he's fired with cause, however, Ridpath said it's possible Currie could sue and the university could end up owing him settlement money.

Currie was suspended in the midst of a search he was leading for a new football coach to replace the fired Butch Jones.

He offered the job to Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and even signed a contract with him, but the deal fell through after intense fan backlash originating from Schiano's connection to Penn State and Jerry Sandusky.

Currie later went to Los Angeles to meet with Washington State coach Mike Leach about the job.

Shortly after that meeting, Davenport asked him to return to Knoxville and it was announced he was suspended.

"That request had nothing to do with any specific coach," Davenport said at the time. "When there are high expectations about a great place, those expectations come with challenges. And challenges require tough decisions. Today required one of those decisions."

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January 8, 2018


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