Eight members of the Tennessee football staff have rejected pay cuts proposed by the school to help compensate for financial losses due to COVID-19.
According to a public records request by Knox News, eight staff members were asked to take pay cuts and declined, including the following:
- Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney
- Defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley
- Offensive line coach Will Friend
- Quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke
- Inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer
- Outside linebackers coach Shelton Felton
- Tight ends coach Joe Osovet
- Strength and conditioning coach A.J. Artis
In fact, the only assistant coaches to accept pay cuts were wide receivers coach Tee Martin – who coached at Kentucky from 2010 to 2011 – and running backs coach Jay Graham.
Knox News is reporting that the UT athletic department is anticipating a $40 million loss in revenue during this fiscal year, “largely because of a pandemic-induced reduction in football revenue.”
Beyond the assistants, Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt was reportedly not asked to take a pay cut because he did not accept a raise in 2020 when he signed an extension with the program back in September. As a result, the school considered that to be Pruitt’s contribution to its plan to recover loss funds during COVID-19.
UT athletics director Phillip Fulmer, who makes $900,000 annually, is currently taking the biggest pay cut among staff members at 15%. That went into effect on Nov. 1. He will also waive all incentive-based compensation he’s eligible for through June 30.
Deputy AD Reid Sigmon also opted to forgo a $15,000 raise he was due on May 1, keeping his salary at $315,000.
“I am very grateful to all the athletic department employees and families that have taken a salary reduction and are showing support to our department during such a difficult time,” Tennessee athletics director Phillip Fulmer said in a statement to Knox News. “They have helped prevent the need to eliminate positions as we continue to battle this pandemic and its medical and financial implications.
“Unfortunately, there were some contract employees who did not agree to a reduction for their own reasons. But I am especially appreciative of all our head coaches and staff members who are doing their part for the greater good of the department.”
This brings us back to 2009 when former Connecticut basketball head coach Jim Calhoun was asked by a reporter if he would take a voluntary pay cut during difficult financial times for the state.
“Not a dime back,” Calhoun infamously told free-lance journalist Ken Krayeske.
“You’re not really that stupid, are you? My best advice to you: shut up.”
Not a dime back.