Vols to buy out 2011-12 Tar Heels games

KNOXVILLE - Tennessee men's athletic director Mike Hamilton on Tuesday confirmed plans to buy out the Volunteers' scheduled football series with North Carolina.

North Carolina was to host UT next year, with the Vols hosting the Tar Heels in 2012.

Hamilton noted UT's particularly tough-looking schedule early in the 2011 season, and he wanted to swap North Carolina for a non-BCS-league program. He asked the Heels to reschedule the game later in the decade, but they declined, forcing UT to look into buying out the series for about $750,000.

The move will be a financial boost for the Vols, as hosting another home game that season - possibly against Buffalo - will bring in several times more money than the UNC buyout will cost.

UT is scheduled to play several more BCS conference foes in the next decade - Oregon, North Carolina State, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Nebraska and Ohio State - and Hamilton has not expressed a desire to move those games.

Center of attention

Dooley said the Vols needed to move one of the team's four freshman offensive linemen to center, and four-star prospect James Stone from Nashville will be given a look at the position this week.

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Stone was considered a tackle or guard prospect by most recruiting services, but Dooley said the former Maplewood High School star has a more ideal body for center than fellow signees Ja'Wuan James, Marques Pair or Zach Fulton.

"We're just looking for centers," Dooley said. "I thought we would be doing a disservice to our team if one of the four linemen we signed, we didn't give them a shot at center. All four of them are big and athletic, and James kind of fits who would we pick (at center) the most, but it's not natural to him. He's never done it.

"We're going to give it a week and see how it goes, and see if he can help us in the future."

Other contacts for Wes Rucker are www.twitter.com/wesrucker and www.facebook.com/tfpvolsbeat.

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