UT chancellor praises John Currie in reference letter as settlement announced

Tennessee, former athletic director come reach agreement

Photo by C.B. Schmelter / John Currie, Tennessee's athletic director at the time, stands on the sideline during a home football game against Southern Mississippi on Nov. 4, 2017.

KNOXVILLE - University of Tennessee chancellor Beverly Davenport signed a glowing letter of recommendation for former athletic director John Currie.

The letter, which was included in a settlement agreement released Thursday, praised Currie for the work he did in eight months as UT's AD.

"We forged a productive partnership that led to several key initiatives while he was here," Davenport wrote in the reference letter.

Davenport placed Currie on paid leave and replaced him with Phillip Fulmer on Dec. 1 as Currie was working to hire a football coach to replace Butch Jones.

Currie was still owed more than $5 million on his contract. The settlement announced Thursday is for $2.5 million and will be paid by the athletic department.

"We wish John and his family well in their future endeavors," Davenport said in a released statement. "We are grateful for his contributions to the University of Tennessee which began more than two decades ago."

Davenport wrote in the reference letter that she is "very optimistic" that the two coaching hires Currie made - men's tennis coach Chris Woodruff and baseball coach Tony Vitello - will be successful.

She also praised his fundraising prowess and credited him with expanding the scope of the Neyland Stadium renovation project.

"John was my first hire at UTK," Davenport wrote in the letter. "He met all of the qualities I was looking for: a sitting athletics director at a Power-5 institution; someone committed to student success; and someone who was committed to winning the right way. Other immediate impressions related to John's intensity, high energy and excellent interpersonal skills."

Davenport noted that, shortly after starting the job, Currie worked to unify the Tennessee fan base by restoring the Lady Vols name and logo and bringing Fulmer "back into the fold" as a university adviser.

Currie, in a released statement, said he and his wife were "blessed" to return to Knoxville, where Currie had earned a master's degree and climbed the ranks of the athletic department in the early 2000s.

"It was my honor to work alongside our first-class UT athletics staff, coaches and student-athletes as well as our faculty, donors and many wonderful people throughout the University community," Currie said in the statement. "I look forward to seeing continued progress for the Vols and Lady Vols under Chancellor Davenport and Coach Fulmer's leadership."

Contact David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @DavidWCobb and on Facebook at facebook.com/volsupdate.