By Jimmy Hyams
When Phillip Fulmer was hired Dec. 1 as Tennessee’s acting athletic director, it was reported he would be on board for two years.
But his contract left it open-ended.
I asked Fulmer recently if he would serve as UT’s athletic director for only two years.
“You know, my wife (Vicki) asked me the same question,’’ Fulmer said in a recent interview on Sports Radio WNML. “I don’t know about a two-year deal. Maybe I did sign something. But I don’t think so.’’
Fulmer was sure about one thing: “It won’t be 20 years, I can tell you that.’’
He added: “I want to do this as long as I am being helpful and if I had to put a number on it, which I don’t have to, I would say five years, six years, something like that.’’
Fulmer said it wouldn’t be fair to new football coach Jeremy Pruitt to leave after two years.
“If I was going to do that,’’ Fulmer said, “I wouldn’t have (taken the job) to be honest with you. I’m committed to being here’’ as long as he’s healthy and productive.
“As I have told you,’’ Fulmer said, “this has invigorated me very, very much and it’s a lot of fun to do this job because I care about the people here and the University.’’
Since the firing of Fulmer in October 2008, UT has hired four football coaches three athletic directors.
“I think it’s crucial that we have stability all around us,’’ Fulmer said.
Fulmer said he thinks UT is in a “real good place,’’ with Dr. Joe DiPietro as president and Dr. Beverly Davenport as chancellor.
Fulmer said he benefited from having a former football coach, Doug Dickey, as his athletic director from 1992-2002.
“He was a football guy that understood the big picture,’’ Fulmer said. “I’m going to try to emulate what he did here and create stability and support all of our teams.
“Obviously, football drives the train financially and publicly and perception wise … but between the guidance I have received and my own experiences, I think I am more than capable of doing that.’’