Is Tennessee football the SEC’s Greece?

Massive debt and a dysfunctional economy could describe Greece or Tennessee football. The Volunteers have over $200 million in debt and reserves of $1.95 million, according to Sports Business Daily. Debt service is $21 million per year. You must read this report explaining the fiscal problems facing the Tennessee Volunteers.

As the Volunteers grapple with debt, attendance has plummeted. According to the same report, Tennessee attendance averaged as high as 107,593 in 2005, but fell to only 89,965.

With this much turmoil, how long until the IMF is forced to intervene? There looks to be a serious balance of payments problem in Tennessee’s football model.

Perhaps the World Bank could create a plan to loan money to the struggling third-world football realm now known as Knoxville.

Part of Tennessee’s trouble comes from firing coaches.

The Volunteers paid Phillip Fulmer a buyout of $6 million when it terminated him in 2008. Derek Dooley was owed a buyout of $5 million when the Vols fired him in 2012. Chris Low provides a breakdown of SEC coaching buyouts since 2007 on the ESPN website.

Sports Business Daily provides even more details on the buyouts. According to the report, a total of “$11.4 million in buyouts to fired coaches in football, basketball and baseball, as well as administrators. Hamilton walked away in 2011 with a $1.335 million buyout.”

Third world is an apt description of Tennessee football. The program has lacked real leadership and vision. With coaches like Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley in the post-Fulmer era, the Volunteers are a laughingstock. In fact, perhaps it is an insult to Greece to be compared with Tennessee football.