Like many other schools across the country, the University of Tennessee has been hit hard by COVID-19. The athletic department asked coaches across its sports to take voluntary pay cuts. According to a new report, most of the Tennessee football staff turned them down.
According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, eight Vols football assistants rejected the ask from athletic director and former head coach Phil Fulmer. Head coach Jeremy Pruitt did take a cut, of sorts at least. He signed a new contract in September that prevents him from collecting bonuses this calendar year, other than for an SEC Championship appearance/win. Neither is in the cards as of now. He also did not take a raise for 2020 with the extension, and other bonuses are being pushed back.
Wide receivers coach Tee Martin and running backs coach Jay Graham, the two Tennessee football alumni on staff, both accepted the pay cuts, as Tennessee athletics looks to avoid layoffs. Eight other coaches—Jim Chaney (OC), Derrick Ansley (DC), Chris Weinke (QB), Will Friend (OL), Joe Osovet (TE), Brian Niedermeyer (ILB), Shelton Felton (OLB), and A.J. Artis (strength and conditioning)—all turned them down.
The total amount turned down by the coaches is about $300,000. Thanks to cuts taken by other coaches across Tennessee’s various teams, the athletic department was able to save $1.3 million of a proposed $1.6 million. $400,000 is from Pruitt’s foregone raise for the season.
Eight Tennessee football staff members rejected pay cuts that were proposed in October by the athletic department.
Those football staffers are the only athletic department employees who were asked to accept a pay cut and declined.https://t.co/2ZDj7g4d0d
— Blake Toppmeyer (@btoppmeyer) November 13, 2020
“I am very grateful to all the athletic department employees and families that have taken a salary reduction and are showing support to our department during such a difficult time,” Fulmer said in a statement to the paper. “They have helped prevent the need to eliminate positions as we continue to battle this pandemic and its medical and financial implications.
“Unfortunately, there were some contract employees who did not agree to a reduction for their own reasons. But I am especially appreciative of all our head coaches and staff members who are doing their part for the greater good of the department.”
Fulmer took the Tennessee athletic department’s biggest percentage cut, forgoing 15-percent of his $900,000 salary, as well as all incentive bonuses outside of a year-end retention bonus worth $150,000.
Per the report, Tennessee athletics anticipates a $40 million loss this year, due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Vols’ game against Texas A&M scheduled for this weekend has been postponed.