Tennessee Makes AD Hire

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    Photo Credit: KSU Athletics

    Tennessee has hired a “Tennessee guy” as its new vice chancellor and director of athletics, but it’s not the name that many were expecting.

    John Currie, a former associate AD at Tennessee and currently the AD at Kansas State is Tennessee’s pick, the school confirmed via a press release on Tuesday afternoon, ending an arduous search for a replacement for outgoing Tennessee AD Dave Hart.

    Currie, who got his undergraduate degree at Wake Forest and a master’s at Tennessee, has overseen a KSU program that has “included team Big 12 Championships in football (2012), men’s basketball (2013) and baseball (2013), 16 team NCAA tournament appearances in men’s and women’s basketball, volleyball and baseball, and 50 individual Big 12 and nine individual NCAA Championships,” according to his KSU bio.

    He’s also helped Kansas State lead the Big 12 in APR while also improving fundraising, attendance and facilities during his time in Manhattan, Kan.

    But Currie’s involvement at Tennessee during the tumultuous period around 2005-09 will certainly be a question mark for some Tennessee fans – many of which had settled on Chattanooga AD David Blackburn and/or former UT head football coach Phillip Fulmer as the only acceptable candidates for the job.

    Currie’s biography from his past time at Tennessee recognizes him as a “key aide” to former UT AD Mike Hamilton, and credits him for helping lead the searches for former basketball coach Bruce Pearl, former football coach Lane Kiffin and former baseball coach Todd Raleigh. Those three hires certainly led to a mixed bag of results for Tennessee over the next few years.

    One question surrounding Currie will be his ability to hire a head football coach, should the need arise in the next few years.

    Currie inherited a football program at Kansas State that had already brought back longtime former coach Bill Snyder for a second run. Snyder has been the head coach at KSU ever since, posting a 66-37 record with trips to the Pinstripe, Cotton, Fiesta, Buffalo Wild Wings, Alamo, Liberty and Texas Bowls during Currie’s time at KSU.

    Currie’s highest-profile hire has been men’s basketball coach Bruce Weber, who replaced successful coach Frank Martin when he bolted to South Carolina in 2012. Weber’s seen mixed results in his five years, taking KSU as high as the top 10 at one point in 2012-13, but also missing the NCAA tournament the past two seasons. Kansas State (17-12), a team the Vols beat in January, is currently on the bubble for the 2017 NCAA tournament.

    Using one measure of total athletic department success – The Directors’ Cup – Kansas State came in 69th nationally for the 2015-16 school year, while Tennessee was 34th. More recent numbers only factoring in 2016 fall sports put Kansas State 75th and Tennessee 113th nationally. Here are the other final Director’s Cup rankings for Kansas State in the years that Currie was there (Tennessee rankings from that year in parenthesis):

    2014-15: 92nd (38th)
    2013-14: 99th (40th)
    2012-13: 72nd (37th)
    2011-12: 62nd (33rd)
    2010-11: 58th (22nd)
    2009-10: 123rd (16th)

    It’s tough to come to an immediate consensus about the hire, and reaction has certainly been split on social media in the moments following the news. Currie checks the boxes of having Tennessee ties and experience as a sitting AD at a Power-5 conference school. But some of his moves during his time at Tennessee have been questioned, and after Blackburn and Fulmer emerged as prohibitive fan favorites, it’ll be tough for some fans to settle for anybody else.

    Currie will have a lengthy list of decisions to make in his first year with major questions surrounding several of UT’s marquee programs.