Tennessee Volunteers athletic department more than $200 million in debt: Just some friendly suggestions
Things just keep going from bad to worse in Knoxville. The Vol’s best men’s basketball coach in years, Bruce Pearl, turned out to be one of the most wildly dishonest recruiters in a generation, thus prompting his firing. On the women’s side, the most legendary coach in the history of the sport, Pat Summit, was forced to step down, unfortunately, with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
But neither of those problems compare to the issues the football team is in. The catastrophic three-year tenure of Derek Dooley has left the entire athletic department on the brink of financial insolvency.
Seriously, it’s that bad: Following years of bad football that has resulted in plummeting attendance numbers, the Vols’ athletic department is currently more than $200 million debt (the most in the SEC) with only $2 million in reserves (the least in the SEC).
The worst part of it? While most Tennessee fans scrimp to try to score the 80 bucks for a single ticket to watch bad football, the school is still going to pay Dooley another $5 million just to not coach the team. That has got to feel good, right Vols Nation?
This per Sports Illustrated:
Now, after staggering to losing football seasons in four of the last five years and seeing attendance drop to levels last seen in the 1970s, the Vols find themselves mired in more than $200 million of debt, the most in the SEC, with reserves of just $1.95 million, the least in the conference.
The athletic department spends a startling $21 million a year on debt payments, $13.5 million of which comes from the school’s stressed $99.5 million athletic budget and the rest from donations.
“We’ve got to get football healthy,” athletic director Dave Hart said. “That’s our economic engine. When that program is successful, everybody wins.”
Of course, after going a putrid 4-19 in the SEC over the last three years (and yes, that includes a loss to Kentucky, which is just embarrassing on so many different levels) that is not going to be an easy task.
However, we have put in an enormous effort to aid our boy, Butch Jones, who was hired on as Dooley’s replacement out of Cincinnati. Again, making up 200 million bones is no simple, one-day project, but we’ve got a few ideas that will at least get the ball rolling.
Especially if, as Mr. Hart so eloquently put it, all the department has to do is ‘get football healthy’.
- Just beat Kentucky – it’s not hard to do, trust us.
- Start begging the richest boosters around — and we mean really begging, not some lame black tie event that will cost more than it brings in.
- Hart could take a pay cut — although we’re going to go out on a limb and say this one is the least likely on the entire list (and it’s only getting more ridiculous from here) to actually taking place.
- Sell the entire athletic department to Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam — he is a Knoxville resident, he will limit the amount of grovelling Hart will have to do, and will he stop at nothing to bring in Jon Gruden to coach this hopeless crew.
- Build a time machine, head back to 1983 and buy as much Apple and Microsoft stock as you can.
- Build a time machine, invent fast food hamburgers.
- Heck, sell the freaking time machine
- Hold the world’s biggest kegger — Get a couple of frats to bring the entire student body to the football stadium, charge five bucks a pop and get everybody blitzed.
- Repeat until you have made $200 million off the destruction of every liver on campus.
- Enlist the Knoxville mafia (aka, “Knoxvillians” and yes, we just made that up) to “take care of Dooley” — that’s a solid $5 million in your back pocket right there.
- Sell Girl Scout Cookies door to door — lots of them (But if you don’t plan on selling Thin Mints, don’t even bother).
- Sell blood and semen — draw your own conclusions here.
- Finally, take a chunk of the remaining $2 million and blow it on the wildest strip club sessions any potential recruits have ever seen — then they’ll definitely want to play for the Vols and maybe they can win some games. Hey, it worked for FIU’s recruiting efforts, right?
Oh yeah, they could have patience with Butch Jones, allow him the time to build a solid foundation for a winning program, and gradually pay off the debt like the group of responsible adults they are supposed to be.
Personally, however, we prefer the Thin Mints angle.