UT's Cheek addresses Vols' athletic department budget situation

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The University of Tennessee addressed the school's athletic department budget situation Tuesday afternoon.

Thru a release, Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek wrote the following:

As we face a transition in our football program, I want to make it clear that we support a mission of comprehensive excellence in our athletics department. Under the leadership of Vice Chancellor and Athletics Director Dave Hart, we will do the things required to return our team to national prominence. As we begin our search for a new coach, I have assured Dave that he will have the support and resources he needs to be successful.

For the next three years, the money the athletics department has contributed to the campus will be reinvested in the athletics department. Relieving athletics of this commitment will allow the department to add an average of $6 million per year to its bottom line for a total of $18 million over three years.

The money was committed under different circumstances and we now need to allow athletics to use these dollars to attain financial stability and invest in the future.

Most of this money has been used for scholarships and fellowships. We will continue to honor these commitments, primarily through private gifts. Let me emphasize, we will not reduce our commitment to students.

I know that winning championships and competing at the highest level lifts the national profile of the University of Tennessee. As chancellor, I am committed to winning both on the field and in the classroom. (end of statement)

Athletic director Dave Hart said Sunday afternoon during his news conference announcing Derek Dooley's firing that the financial situation for Tennessee is "concerning."

Tennessee has $1.9 million dollar reserve. Hart said that figure is "unheard of" in the SEC. Hart continued by saying that Tennessee competes against schools that have reserves of about $50-$100 million dollars.

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