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Fulmer named acting athletic director at University of Tennessee

(UT Athletics)

Chancellor Beverly Davenport has announced former coach Phillip Fulmer has been appointed as the acting athletic director at the University of Tennessee John Currie, said an official release from the Knoxville school.

She also announced that current athletic director John Currie has been placed on leave with pay.

The move comes following Sunday's chain of events where Currie had negotiated a deal with current Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano and had a memorandum of understanding with the former Rutgers and Tampa Bay coach.

A public outcry from state officials and fans resulted in Currie taking that deal off the table.

NBC affiliate WBIR reported that Currie was in Los Angeles to interview current Washington State head coach Mike Leach for the UT opening when Currie was summoned back to Knoxville for a meeting with Davenport Friday morning. That meeting lasted 12 minutes and Currie did not have a formal comment.

Here is Davenport's statement:

University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Chancellor Beverly Davenport announced today that Athletic Director John Currie has been placed on leave with pay and that she has appointed Phillip Fulmer to perform the role of athletic director.

Davenport will address the media at a press conference set for 4 p.m. today at the Ray and Lucy Hand Digital Studio.

The chancellor said she has taken these steps in the best interest of the university. Davenport stressed the need for Volunteers to stand together and to support the university and this appointment.

"Phillip Fulmer has been a great representative of the university. He has been a student-athlete, a head coach, and a father of UT student-athletes," Davenport said. "He understands our history, our rich traditions, and the importance of supporting our student-athletes.

"I am confident that Phillip understands our commitment to excellence in all of our athletic programs and I appreciate his willingness to serve during this critical time." Davenport said that Fulmer will continue the Vols football coach search beginning immediately.

"Tennessee has a very engaged and passionate fan base. I appreciate and respect all of our supporters, alumni, fans, and student-athletes, and I deeply regret what we have gone through this past week," Davenport said. "I am committed to a process that will result in the best person to support our student-athletes and lead the football program."

Fulmer has been connected to UT athletics for more than 40 years. A 1972 UT graduate, he was a star on the offensive line and served as team captain during his senior year. Fulmer returned as an assistant coach in 1980 before being named head coach in 1992. Under his leadership, the Vols won back-to-back SEC titles in 1997 and 1998 and the 1998 BCS National Championship.

Fulmer was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012. He has been serving as a special advisor to UT President Joe DiPietro for community, athletics, and university relations.

DiPietro released this statement:

"The University of Tennessee is fortunate to have an athletic department beloved by alumni and fans across the state and around the country. The process of searching for a football coach for the Vols has obviously not gone as expected to this point, and I regret the damage it has caused to the University's reputation. I'm very grateful to Phillip Fulmer for stepping in to act as athletics director at this critical juncture, and I'm completely confident that he is the right choice to right the ship and for moving the process forward toward a successful outcome."

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