University of Tennessee athletic director John Currie, pictured, spoke Sunday afternoon in Knoxville after firing football coach Butch Jones earlier in the day.

This is a developing story.


KNOXVILLE — University of Tennessee athletic director John Currie released a statement Monday defending his decision to consider Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano as a candidate for Tennessee's open head football coach position.

Specifically, Currie addressed Schiano's time at Penn State from 1990 to 1995, which coincided with the tenure of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State defensive coordinator who is serving a minimum 30-year sentence after his 2012 conviction on 45 charges of sexually abusing 10 boys.

In 2016, Schiano was implicated as a possible witness in the Penn State child rape scandal. Testimony unsealed from former Nittany Lions assistant coach Mike McQueary in a deposition indicated McQueary had been told by another assistant that Schiano apparently once witnessed former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky "doing something to a boy in the shower."

"Consequently, we, of course, carefully reviewed the 2012 investigation report by Louis Freeh," Currie said in the statement. "Coach Schiano is not mentioned in the Freeh report and was not one of the more than 400 people interviewed in the investigation. We also confirmed that Coach Schiano was never deposed and never asked to testify in any criminal or civil matter. And, we conferred with our colleagues at The Ohio State University, who had conducted a similar inquiry after the 2016 release of testimony. I know that Coach Schiano will continue to have great success in his coaching career and wish him and his family well."

Currie said in the statement that Tennessee "carefully interviewed and vetted" Schiano and that he received high recommendations.

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer praised Schiano's character in a conference call Sunday and stood by Schiano last summer when McQueary's testimony was unsealed.

Currie had been scheduled to speak to the Knoxville Quarterback Club on Monday. That appearance has been cancelled.

"I am grateful for your patience as our search for the next leader for the Tennessee football program continues, and I look forward to making that introduction soon," Currie said in the statement.

Early Monday afternoon, Tennessee chancellor Beverly Davenport issued a statement that appeared to support Currie amid speculation that the first-year athletic director could be at risk of losing his job over the Schiano ordeal.

"I deeply regret the events of yesterday for everyone involved," Davenport said in the statement. "The university remains steadfast in its commitment to excellence, and I look forward to John Currie continuing the search to bring the next head football coach to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville."

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