Politicians cheer appointment of Fulmer as UT athletic director

Tennessee politicians are generally praising the appointment of former head football coach Phil Fulmer as athletics director at the University of Tennessee, reports the News Sentinel, but some are also voicing concerns about the future of the state’s flagship campus in Knoxville.

As news that former Athletic Director John Currie had been suspended on paid leave, lawmakers took to social media and weighed in on Fulmer’s appointment and the whirlwind of events leading up to Friday.

The change in athletics leadership follows a week of let downs in the search for a new head football coach. On Sunday, several of the state’s key politicians, including major candidates for governor, were speaking out against plans to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano after fan backlash over potential ties to convicted sex offender Jerry Sandusky.

…”Coach Fulmer had a distinguished career as a football coach, represented Tennessee well and I am encouraged with his selection as the interim AD for UT,” (state Rep. Eddie) Smith said.

Several major candidates for governor also praised Fulmer’s appointment on Friday, including U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-TN; House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville; Williamson County businessman Bill Lee; and Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd.

…Rep. Martin Daniel, R – Knoxville, who has been critical of the university for years, weighed in earlier this week on would-be coach Schiano and said Friday that UT is a “big ole’ mess”… Former AD Currie may be the face of the problem, but the problem really lies with leadership at the top of the administration and our disengaged board of trustees. That said, I’m glad to see a real UT Vol, Phil Fulmer, back in a top administrative position at our university.”

“When you have a mess like we’ve seen over the last week, someone has to be held accountable. It looks like that person is Currie,” said Rep. Jason Zachary, R-Knoxville (in a text message urging Fulmer’s appointment before it was announced – and he expressed a “sense of relief after the announcement).

…“Dr. Davenport should be next,” said Rep. Andy Holt, R- Dresden, in a text message (referring to Beverley Davenport, appointed UT Knoxville chancellor earlier this year).

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