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Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Phillip Fulmer open to discussing post

By Chris Low
ESPN.com

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer told ESPN.com Wednesday that he would be open to discussing the soon-to-be vacant athletic director's job with university officials.

Vols AD Mike Hamilton, who fired Fulmer as football coach following the 2008 season, announced his resignation Tuesday, effective June 30. Tennessee is set to appear before the NCAA Committee on Infractions Saturday in Indianapolis and faces allegations of 12 major violations in its football and men's basketball programs.

"What I want is what's best for my university," Fulmer said. "I'll spend my time over these next few days trying to figure out what that is and whether this is something that's real for me to be able to do, both from a professional and a personal standpoint.

"We'll see what the feelings are of the people there at the university and the decision-makers, and that's simply where we are right now. I'm not politicking for the job, and I don't need a job. But if I can help my university, I'm interested in doing that any way I can."

Fulmer, who's worked in private business and as a college football analyst for CBS since his ouster as the Vols' coach, said it's important for everybody "who truly loves Tennessee" to move forward.

And he said that includes him.

"I'm at a good place now in my life, and I'm not bitter about anything that's happened in the past," Fulmer said. "It's about what we do from here, and this is an important time for our university.

"We all want to be proud of our school again."

I'm not politicking for the job, and I don't need a job. But if I can help my university, I'm interested in doing that any way I can.

-- Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer

Fulmer spent more than 30 years at Tennessee as a player, assistant and coach. He finished his coaching career with a 152-52-1 record and remains the last coach in the SEC to win back-to-back league championships, in 1997 and 1998.

The Vols won the BCS National Championship in 1998 with a 13-0 record. But that was Fulmer's final SEC championship season, despite reaching the conference title game three more times. He suffered through a pair of losing seasons in his last four years on the job and was forced out following the 2008 season.

Fulmer said he has met Tennessee president Joe DiPietro and Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek, neither of whom was in his current position when Fulmer was fired.

"I like the new administration a lot," Fulmer said. "I think we have men of integrity and that they want to do the right thing. I really like what Derek (Dooley) is doing with the football program and am excited about where we go from here."

Fulmer declined to weigh in specifically on Hamilton's resignation and repeated that he didn't want to dredge up the past.

But he did say he believed Tennessee had lost some respect nationally the past couple of years because of its NCAA compliance issues.

"Some of the things we've been through are not what we've been about historically, some of the compliance issues we've had," Fulmer said. "I want us to get back to winning championships and to get our respect back from a national standpoint ... and stay out of the NCAA news."

Chris Low covers the SEC for ESPN.com.