UT's chancellor made it clear on Tuesday that the athletic department would have the financial support it needed to hire a football coach.
In a statement, Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said, "As we face a transition in our football program, I want to make it clear that we support a mission of comprehensive excellence in our athletics department. Under the leadership of Vice Chancellor and Athletics Director Dave Hart, we will do the things required to return our team to national prominence. As we begin our search for a new coach, I have assured Dave that he will have the support and resources he needs to be successful."
Cheek said the over the next three years, the money the athletics department usually contributes to the academic side of campus will be reinvested in the athletics department. That amounts to about $18 million dollars.
Cheek said, "The money was committed under different circumstances and we now need to allow athletics to use these dollars to attain financial stability and invest in the future."
Most of that money has been used for scholarships and fellowships, according to Cheek, and he promises that those commitments will still be honored, primarily through private gifts.
"Let me emphasize, we will not reduce our commitment to students," said Cheek.
In the statement, Cheek emphasized the importance of this hire.
"I know that winning championships and competing at the highest level lifts the national profile of the University of Tennessee. As chancellor, I am committed to winning both on the field and in the classroom."