Following an article in the Knoxville News Sentinel that seeming contradicted athletic director Dave Hart’s statement Sunday that the Vols and UT have agreed that finances shouldn’t be an issue in the coaching search, chancellor Jimmy Cheek issued a statement giving the details of at least part of how UT plans to help fund the football team’s new boss.
“For the next three years, the money the athletics department has contributed to the campus will be reinvested in the athletics department,” Cheek wrote Tuesday. “Relieving athletics of this commitment will allow the department to add an average of $6 million per year to its bottom line for a total of $18 million over three years.”
This money has been used by the University to fund scholarships and fellowships. Cheek says that he will seek private gifts to fund these commitments, and that none of the University’s current academic commitments will go unfunded.
The athletic department is currently sitting on a $1.9 million reserve, while most SEC programs have on average $50-100 million. With $5 million due to Derek Dooley for his contract buyout, and up to $4.3 million more due to assistant coaches if the entire staff is let go, Dave Hart’s department is in a financial bind as they seek to finance a new coach.
“We are in a tough position financially,” Hart said during Sunday’s press conference. “The Chancellor doesn’t want us to be at a competitive disadvantage of any nature whether it be financial, or academic or in any other arena where we are trying to compete and get back into the top of that pyramid. We are in a tenuous position, at a crossroads with our athletics program. But, we have people who understand that and are committed to helping us overcome those obstacles.”
Private donations will be made, surely some already have, but the influx of cash from the University sets Hart up to make a “big splash” hire, one that he hopes will right the ship and produce an inflow of cash for his department in the coming years.
With only thirteen coaches currently paid over $3 million a year, the Vols don’t necessarily have to pay the next guy a dump truck load of money, but the team does need to pay for a coach that has a proven record of winning and they need to be willing to pay whatever that guy is worth.
Nick Saban’s salary of $5.316 million has been paid in full with cash earned by the program’s success.
Dave Hart knows this and should replicate the model here at UT.
Especially with three perspective candidates on that list of 13 and four current SEC coaches.