The University of Tennessee has become synonymous with two things: Dysfunction and buyouts. And the two go hand-in-hand, really.
Tennessee has or will pay somewhere around $30 million in buyouts for various contracts in their major sports and athletic departments over the last decade. That’s thanks to the university firing Phillip Fulmer, firing Derek Dooley, and firing Butch Jones in football, firing Bruce Pearl in basketball, firing John Currie as Athletics Director, and firing Chancellor Beverly Davenport among even more moves in smaller sports over the years as well. AD Mike Hamilton resigned in 2011 but still bafflingly received a $1.3 million severance package from new AD Dave Hart.
It would seem as though Tennessee loves to give away money to coaches and administrators who no longer work for the university. And that may soon be the case for the aforementioned Davenport too.
According to a release from the university, the University’s Board of Trustees Audit and Compliance Committee is considering a recommendation from university president Joe DiPietro to approve a separation agreement and payment of $1.33 million to Davenport. If DiPietro’s recommendation is approved, Davenport’s employment at Tennessee will end June 5th and no taxpayer dollars, student tuition or fees, or donor funds will be used to fund the separation payment.
When it was originally announced that Davenport was being relieved of her duties as UT Chancellor, the agreement was for her to stay on as a tenured faculty member in the College of Communication and receive a pay cut from $585,000 as chancellor to $438,750 as a faculty member. The separation agreement would take away that demotion to faculty member.
The separation agreement might save UT money in the long run, however. If agreed upon, it would alleviate the university from what they would contractually owe her as a faculty member. She would be owed about $2 million over the next four years if she stayed on at UT as opposed to the $1.33 million in the separation agreement.
Davenport was relieved of her duties in early May of this year after serving as UT’s chancellor officially since February of 2017. President Joe DiPietro cited several reasons for her termination and even penned a scathing letter to her outlining his reasons for moving on from her at the position.
Davenport’s tenure at UT will be remembered for her hires of Tennessee’s Athletics Director. She now infamously hired John Currie to be UT’s AD not long after she officially took the job as chancellor, but she had to part ways with him just eight months later after he botched the search for Tennessee’s next head football coach. She would then appoint former head coach Phillip Fulmer to AD on December 1st, and Fulmer would go on to hire Jeremy Pruitt as head coach.