published Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

UT athletics loses 17 positions

KNOXVILLE -- The first stage in the process is complete.

It wasn't without casualties, however.

Tennessee announced Monday afternoon that the initial phase of merging its men's and women's athletic departments is complete. As part of the reorganization and restructuring, a total of 17 full-time positions within the athletic department were eliminated, effective June 1. It's a move that will save UT $1.03 million.

"During this process," according to the UT release, "an examination of peer institutions in both the conference and the nation revealed that the number of employees within UT athletics exceeds that of comparable athletic departments and that functions continue to be duplicated, both factors in the decisions reached relating to the restructuring effort."

UT believes the financial impact of the restructuring will be "significant." The university expects the terminated full-time positions, along with the elimination of other unfilled positions and reductions in the number of student employees, to reach nearly $2.5 million. Cutting the personnel costs is part of UT's goal of "eliminating duplications and inefficiencies" so that more money can go "toward student-athlete needs and initiatives."

UT was one of the last remaining separate athletic departments. Once UT's is completed this summer, Texas will be the lone school in the country with that distinction. UT announced its plan to merge athletic departments last summer, and athletic director Dave Hart has directed the move since his hire in September.

Though Hart did not comment in the release, the goal of "comprehensive excellence" as part of UT's mission statement in the release has been an objective he's reiterated publicly since his hire.

"Creating a more efficient and effective organization combined with becoming better stewards of available financial resources is critical in order to meet the challenges of the financial landscape moving forward," UT's release stated. "In order to build a strategy relative to our current and future financial position, difficult decisions have to be made with respect to personnel and key areas within the overall operating budget."

The university's release did not include the names of any employees whose jobs are being eliminated. Those employees have been notified of the elimination. They also have the opportunity to "utilize all resources" available from UT's human resources department.

"These decisions," the release stated, "will not cut into the fiber of our pursuit of comprehensive excellence."

Contact Patrick Brown at pbrown@timesfreepress.com or 901-581-7288. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/patrickbrowntfp.

about Patrick Brown...

Patrick Brown has been the University of Tennessee beat writer since January 2011. A native of Memphis, Brown graduated from UT in May of 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism/Electronic Media and worked at the Knoxville News Sentinel for two years on the sports editorial staff and as a freelance contributor. If it’s the NBA, the NFL or SEC football and basketball, he’s probably reading about it or watching it on TV. Contact him ...

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