KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Phillip Fulmer will not be returning for an 18th season with Tennessee, according to multiple reports Monday.
ESPN.com cited multiple sources that Fulmer, 58, met with Tennessee officials Monday morning where they agreed it would be best if the coach did not stay on the job after this season. The report says an announcement will be made later Monday. The Tennessean also reported Fulmer would announce he would step down.
Athletic director Mike Hamilton and other Tennessee officials did not immediately return voicemails left by The Associated Press. Fulmer did not immediately return a message left on his cell phone. Neither did Fulmer’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, immediately return a page left on his cell phone nor the coach’s attorney, Jeff Hagood, return a message left at his office.
Athletic department officials familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that an announcement was being readied for late afternoon. The official declined to be quoted by name because nothing official has been announced and also would not discuss what the announcement would be.
The Vols fell to 3-6, 1-5 in the Southeastern Conference after winning the league’s Eastern Division title last season after a 27-6 loss at South Carolina on Saturday night.
“Anybody that likes Tennessee and cares about what the product looks like on the field is frustrated,” Fulmer said Sunday.
Fulmer currently has a record of 150-51 all-time in 17 years, which includes 1992 in which he coached three games in place of then-head coach Johnny Majors while he had heart surgery. Majors was ousted after he returned following a loss at South Carolina but finished the regular season.
Tennessee officially named Fulmer head coach on Nov. 29, 1992, and he led the Vols to the 1998 national championship – the school’s first since 1951.