The Tennessee Vols running a budget deficit and another potential football transfer lead our Volunteers news for Friday, Jan. 25, 2019.
Men’s Tennessee basketball may be ranked No. 1 in the nation. It’s also Friday. But the combination of those two things still can’t offset the bad news that hit the Tennessee Vols heading into the weekend.
To be fair, none of it is horrendous news to panic over. But our morning update on Rocky Top leads with a lot of negative stories. This includes one in football, one in women’s basketball and one in overall athletics.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a neutral story and some good news in two other sports. But the leading stories are all negative. Let’s start with the news that broke about the overall athletic department Friday morning.
UT athletics operating at a deficit – Blake Toppmeyer, Knoxville News Sentinel
The Tennessee Vols athletic department operated at a $6.5 million deficit during the fiscal year 2018 because of buyouts from firing former football head coach Butch Jones and former athletic director John Currie. Although they reached a $2.2 million settlement in March with Currie, who was replaced by Phillip Fulmer, Jones is owed monthly installments until his contract expires in 2021.
Tennessee listed $13.8 million in buyout expenses for the 2018 fiscal year, which includes $11.5 million in football buyouts.
Not all of the buyout expenses listed on the 2018 fiscal report have been paid out.
Austin Smith enters transfer portal – Patrick Brown, GoVols247
Tennessee Vols football linebacker Austin Smith has entered the NCAA transfer portal. The upcoming fifth-year senior who played in four games last year joined offensive lineman Drew Richmond and tight end Eli Wolf in doing so.
When players enter their names into the NCAA’s new portal, it allows other programs to contact them. The new model eliminates the need for players to request permission from their current programs if they want to explore their transfer options and look at other programs.
Lady Vols lose to No. 1 Notre Dame – Steve MeGargee, Associated Press
The Tennessee women’s basketball team suffered its sixth consecutive loss Thursday, which became the longest losing streak in school history. Holly Warlick’s team fell to 12-7 overall while remaining 1-5 in the SEC after losing to the No. 1 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish at home 77-62 despite having a first-half lead.
This marked the second straight year Notre Dame (19-1) came from behind to beat Tennessee. Last season, the Irish rallied from 23 points down to defeat the Lady Vols 84-70 for their biggest comeback in program history.
Tennessee Lady Vols senior infielder Aubrey Leach has been named to the 2019 preseason All-SEC team. Leach led the nation last year in runs per game and led the SEC with a batting average of .441 in 2018.
Alabama, Florida and LSU each have two representatives on the squad, while Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee all had one player named to the team. In a class-by-class breakdown, the 2019 team consists of eight seniors, three juniors and three sophomores.
The 2-0 Tennessee Lady Vols women’s tennis team will take on the 3-0 and No. 15 ranked Florida State Seminoles Friday afternoon to begin the ITA Kick-Off Weekend in Tallahassee. It is their first time participating in the event since 2014, and it also includes the 4-0 Clemson Tigers and 1-0 LSU Tigers.
The winner of the two-day tournament advances to next month’s 16-team ITA National Team Indoor Championships in Seattle. There are 15 ITA Kick-Off Weekend qualifying sites in action over the next two days; Washington is automatically in the national field as tournament host.
Tennessee is 8-4 all-time in the ITA Kick-Off Weekend event, and will be looking to advance out of Kick-Off Weekend for the first time since 2012.