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PULLMAN, Wash. – Multiple outlets are reporting that Washington State University Head Coach Mike Leach was offered the head coach position at the University of Tennessee by former UT Athletics Director, John Currie, only to have the deal fall through.
Currie was put on leave Friday morning and former UT head football coach Phil Fulmer was named as interim director of athletics on Friday afternoon.
Fulmer, in a press conference on Friday afternoon, did not specifically address the Leach rumors, but said the search for a coach continues.
"We first must find us a coach who wants to be at Tennessee, who appreciates the unique opportunity we have to offer at this very special place at this historical time," Fulmer said. "The kind of head coach that will honor our university's values, will be proud to represent our state and be a role model for our student athletes."
When the floor was opened for questions, a reporter immediately asked UT chancellor Beverly Davenport why Currie was not given the opportunity to make things work with WSU's Mike Leach.
"He's one of the best coaches in the country," the reporter asked. "Why wouldn't you at least give him a chance to make that work?"
Davenport said she was not there to discuss the head coach position.
"We're here to talk about the change in the athletics department," she said. "I'm not going to talk about coaches at any other schools or any other places."
Beverly Davenport doesn’t want to talk about anything worth talking about.— Darnay Tripp (@DarnayTripp) December 1, 2017
Davenport went on to say there was not a single event that led to Currie's dismissal.
"It's been a tough week for us," she said. "It's been a series of events, there's not a single event."
A to Z Sports Nashville said a source told them that Currie met with Leach for lunch in Los Angeles on Thursday.
Report: Mike Leach offered Tennessee head job https://t.co/ur6bheUEmQ— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) December 1, 2017
Mike Leach tells me tonight that “I'm on my way.” Leach interviewed for the Tennessee job today.— Dan Harralson (@danharralson) December 1, 2017
Leach had previously dismissed rumors about being in the running for the position. During a press conference, Leach said he cannot comment on rumors he does not know anything about. He said he is focused on WSU and could not be happier.
KREM 2's sister station WBIR in Knoxville is reporting Currie had been meeting with Leach in Los Angeles and had planned to make an offer when he was called back to Knoxville by UT administrators.
Vol fans have voiced their displeasure with Currie recently for his handling of the search for a new head football coach after Butch Jones was dismissed this season. Wednesday night, basketball fans chanted "Fire Currie" multiple times at a home game against Mercer. The football team just finished their worst season in program history.
Several names have been floated for the University of Tennessee football job, including one that faced considerable public outcry: Greg Schiano. Fans protested because Schiano, the current Ohio State University defensive coordinator, once faced accusations that he had failed to report sexual assault while an assistant coach at Penn State under Joe Paterno and alongside convicted sexual predator Jerry Sandusky. Schiano vehemently denied those accusations.
Sports Illustrated earlier Friday reported Leach also is getting interest from Arkansas for its head coaching vacancy.
This story has been updated at 3:40 p.m.