This morning I met with Coach Butch Jones to discuss the future of the football program, and I informed him of my decision that he step down as the University of Tennessee’s head football coach. Transitions like this are never easy for anyone involved, and I am grateful for the way Coach Jones, Barb and their children have poured their hearts and souls into this community and the improvement of our football program over the past five years. I know that Coach Jones will be successful as he moves forward in his career and I know that Tennessee fans join me in thanking Coach Jones and his family for the many facets of our program which have improved under his leadership.
As we close out the final two games of the regular season—still with the opportunity to compete in a bowl game—Coach Hoke will serve as interim head coach. I know Vol Nation will stick together, rally around this team and support these student-athletes who, despite adversity throughout this season, continue to play with great effort and intensity.
Meanwhile, we now turn our attention to an exhaustive search to identify a coach of the highest integrity and character with the skills and vision to return Tennessee football to championship form. Our commitment to doing what it takes to hire the absolute best coach for the University of Tennessee is resolute.
This afternoon at 5:00 p.m. ET, I will hold a press conference to discuss this transition. The press conference will be streamed live on UTsports.com so that you can follow along and stay up-to-date as it takes place. Complete video and a full transcript of the press conference will be available to view on-demand on UTsports.com for those who are unable to view it live.
To protect the integrity of our process, following the press conference I will have no further public comments until such time we announce our new coach. This search will be my sole focus and I will be in regular contact with Chancellor Davenport. Naturally, there will be great interest and speculation across the college football world. As I reminded our student-athletes when I met with them earlier today, unless you hear news directly from me, do not assume it to be accurate.
During this time of transition, I am heartened by the ongoing passion of Big Orange fans worldwide. Thank you for continued and unwavering support of Tennessee student-athletes!
Go Big Orange!