By Josh Ward | @Josh_Ward
At most universities, paying a buyout of $1.33 million to a chancellor who’s only been on the job for 16 months would be a big deal.
Not at Tennessee.
That $1.33 million is what UT agreed to pay Dr. Beverly Davenport on Tuesday after she was fired as the chancellor of the university last month.
Davenport had been set to move to a faculty position in the College of Communications, according to the school, but that was never a realistic solution after president Joe DiPietro decided to remove Davenport from her chancellor position.
So UT moves on and pays another former employee not to work. Davenport is only the latest person to receive a hefty payment to leave the school.
Since November, Tennessee has agreed to buyout payments with Davenport, former football coach Butch Jones ($8.257 million) and former athletic director John Currie ($2.5 million). That’s a total of more than $12 million in buyout money in less than eight months.
That doesn’t include the money Tennessee still owes former athletic director Dave Hart, whose contract ends in September, or former assistant football coaches who were let go along with Jones.
Tennessee was once known as “Wide Receiver U” because of its reputation for producing standout receivers on the football field. Tennessee’s recent activity has earned the school a new nickname: “Buyout U.”
Since 2005, Tennessee has paid out more than $26 million to former athletic directors and head football and basketball coaches. Look at this graphic from John Pennington at The Sports Source.
Major donors to the university have to be asking if their donations are being used to provide resources to the university or assist in payments to former employees.
Tennessee made sure to point out in the settlement agreement with Davenport that “no taxpayer dollars, student tuition fees, or donor funds” will be used in this settlement with Davenport. Don’t be fooled; these are still public funds being used to pay Davenport. That’s a cost to the university.
Perhaps if we weren’t so used to seeing Tennessee pay large buyouts, this latest seven-figure payment to Davenport would be a bigger deal.
Instead, it’s just another drop in Tennessee’s buyout bucket.