Phillip Fulmer Must Step Down At UT
Phillip Fulmers firing was bigger nationally than Presidential candidate John McCain landing in Sullivan County, TN. for a late campaign visit before the national elections.
By: BE Coleman
The story was bigger nationally than Presidential candidate John McCain landing in the Tri-Cities, TN. for a late campaign visit before the national elections.
Tennessee’s Phillip Fulmer has agreed to resign his position leading the Volunteer program. The 5:00 PM press conference on Monday was taken over by Vol players pointing fingers at the media for Fulmer's announcement that he had been let go by the university.
The coaching decision change had been made on Sunday night when Tennessee Athletic Director Mike Hamilton broached the situation to end all speculation.
An emotional Fulmer made it very clear that it was not his decision to step down. "This is not an easy day for me or for my family," began Fulmer. It's not a day that I accepted easily."
But, with the recent results this season the Tennessee family actually had little choice but to make the changes based on fans and for the tradition of the university.
After the loss to South Carolina; found Hamilton torn in making the timing for the announcement known. "Why we are here today occurred over the last 24 hours," said Hamilton.
"I love this university and hope everyone knows that beyond a shadow of a doubt, said Fulmer. Nearly the exact thoughts of former Tennessee Coach Johnny Majors after the press conference had ended, speaking by media request to reporters.
“I wish nothing but the best for the Tennessee football program,” said Majors.
Fulmer signed a 7-year contract extension in July totaling $2.99 million per year. He will make $2.4 million this year, has a $6 million buyout that will be paid out over 48 months by the athletics department.
But, in the end Hamilton said Tennessee will now begin a national coaching search immediately, which will be a detailed process.
"Change is never easy in life noted," Hamilton. "It will be a painful process over the next few days, particularly the next few weeks, but the fact is the University of Tennessee will move on."
Hamilton add, "That we are moving on, but we want to honor Phillip Fulmer the last three games. It’s a sad day in many respects."
Hamilton did not want to discuss any of the characteristics of a new head coach saying "It is very hard sometimes to separate the personal from the professional. I can promise you that its something I've wretched over 24-7 for some period of time," now.
Fulmer was told at the press conference he would be able to coach out his remaining three games, and if there is a bowl that too if he chooses. He was offered a position within the athletic department much as Majors had been in 92.
The soon to be former Dean of SEC Coaches said he “was a coach, and that was something he would think upon.” A teary eyed Fulmer acted more as if he would go elsewhere more than he would stay in Knoxville.
"When the games are over, I will step back and reflect, read Fulmer from his notes. “With this decision behind us, I am very hopeful and very confident the Tennessee people will rally around our young men and start the new road right now."
It's very difficult for me to call this the end of my coaching career," Fulmer said. "Right now, I'm focused on these young men I recruited to be here for this football team. They have three games left, and I will give them my full devotion to make sure we finish in a positive way.
Hamilton said the Kentucky game at Neyland Stadium would be Phillip Fulmer Day at the university.
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