KNOXVILLE — Former Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer will be paid $37,500 for a three-month position as a special assistant to Tennessee President John Petersen.
Fulmer will be paid $12,500 a month between Dec. 1 and Feb. 28 to help with “developing and enhancing strategic relationships for the university,” Petersen said in a statement.
The salary will be funded by private dollars. Fulmer, who is to receive a total of $6 million in the next four years as part of his coaching contract buyout, also will receive employment benefits available to full-time Tennessee employees.
“Phillip Fulmer is a UT icon and a wonderful ambassador. Over his long career with the university he has developed a vast network of contacts, made invaluable relationships with alumni and UT supporters, and done extensive work with development,” Petersen said.
Fulmer announced Nov. 3 that he would not return to coach the Volunteers next season at the request of the university. Athletic director Mike Hamilton said at the time he hoped the coach of 17 years would remain at Tennessee in an administrative capacity.
Fulmer has said he’s still interested in coaching but only wanted to pursue positions at passionate football schools such as Clemson, which recently hired interim coach Dabo Swinney to be its next head coach.
“I am not yet certain what the future holds for my career, but I’ll always support my alma mater, and I appreciate the opportunity to help the university out now,” said Fulmer, who was replaced by Lane Kiffin.
Tennessee officials are facing the task of reducing the university’s budget by $48 million this fiscal year thanks to a potential state budget shortfall of $800 million. School officials are restricting job hires, decreasing energy consumption and reducing operating expenditures to meet that mark.
BERRY GOOD: Tennessee safety Eric Berry was named the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year by The Associated Press on Monday.
Berry, a sophomore, is tied for the national lead with seven interceptions this season, returning two for touchdowns. He broke the Tennessee and SEC records for interception return yards in a season with 265.
He also had 222 interception return yards in 2007, giving him the UT and conference career records in that category. Berry is just 14 yards shy of the major college career record of 501 interception return yards, held by Florida State’s Terrell Buckley (1989-91).
Berry ranked third on the team with 72 tackles — including three sacks and 8½ stops behind the line of scrimmage — and broke up six passes.
“I am extremely proud for Eric and this honor is well deserved,” Fulmer said. “Eric is a great football player and outstanding student, but his greatest attribute is he is a great person and leader. He is an example for our university and for what is good about college football.”
Two other Vols earned acclaim from the AP. Both seniors, offensive lineman Anthony Parker and defensive end Robert Ayers were selected second-team all-conference.
Ayers was sixth on the team with 49 tackles but led all Vols with 15½ tackles for loss. He got his first career interception at Georgia. Parker started all 12 games on the offensive line, six at each of the guard positions.
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who guided his team into the national championship game and put himself in contention for a second Heisman Trophy, was named the SEC offensive player of the year. Alabama’s Nick Saban was voted the league’s top coach and Crimson Tide receiver Julio Jones was chosen the SEC’s best freshman.
STILL ON TRACK: Safety Demetrice Morley did not endanger his chances of having robbery charges expunged from his record after he was arrested last week.
Morley, who started 10 games for the Vols this season, was participating in a pretrial intervention program after being charged in an April 2007 strong-armed robbery on the Florida International University campus in Miami.
Pretrial intervention is available to suspects without any previous convictions in some cases.
Ed Griffith, a spokesman for the Miami- Dade County office of the state attorney, said Morley is doing well in his program. According to Tennessee officials, Morley completed 75 hours of community service in May.
The 21-year-old redshirt junior was detained early Thursday morning in a traffic stop. A records search by police showed an outstanding warrant out of Miami issued when Morley failed to appear for a Sept. 4 court date in the robbery case.
Morley was released from jail late Thursday night after Miami-Dade chose not to extradite him. His court hearing has been rescheduled for Dec. 23.
SEC HONORS SMITH: Junior forward Tyler Smith was named the SEC player of the week following his performance in last Wednesday’s win over UNC Asheville.
In Tennessee’s 100th season of varsity basketball, Smith recorded the first triple-double in school history while playing just 26 minutes in the Vols’ 87-69 victory over the Bulldogs. He committed no turnovers.
Smith is averaging 17.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game this season.