Tennessee fires Beverly Davenport, chancellor who hired John Currie as AD

University of Tennessee-Knoxville Chancellor Beverly Davenport was fired Wednesday after just over a year on the job. (AP Photo/Erik Schelzig)

Beverly Davenport’s time as the chancellor of Tennessee did not last long.

The university announced Wednesday that Davenport will be relieved of her duties and subsequently become part of the faculty of UT-Knoxville’s College of Communication and Information.

Davenport, who was hired in Dec. 2016 and formally took office in Feb. 2017, famously hired John Currie as the school’s athletic director. Currie was then tasked with hiring a new football coach after he fired Butch Jones. Things did not go smoothly, to say the least.

Currie had an agreement in place to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, but that decision was met with an avalanche of negativity. From there, he switched gears and made overtures toward NC State’s Dave Doeren and Washington State’s Mike Leach, among others. When Currie traveled to the west coast to meet with Leach, Davenport called for Currie to return to Knoxville. The next morning, Currie was suspended and later fired with longtime Vols coach Phillip Fulmer succeeding him as athletic director. Fulmer then hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.

In a news release, UT system president Joe DiPietro said “a change” in leadership was “necessary and in the best interests of the university.” The fiasco that was the coaching search undoubtedly had a role in the decision.

“It is my responsibility as UT president to ensure the success of every campus, beginning with the leadership of every campus. A great deal is at stake in these hires, particularly given the importance of the flagship campus both to fulfilling the UT system mission and to that mission’s impact on the lives of all Tennesseans. Upon realizing that UT Knoxville needed a change from Dr. Davenport’s leadership, I decided to take action to address the leadership need,” DiPietro said.

“Dr. Davenport and I have had several conversations during her tenure as chancellor to lay out expectations, and discuss concerns. Unfortunately, issues arose that have progressed and, while I am disappointed to have to make this change, it is necessary and in the best interests of the University.”

In a letter to Davenport, DiPietro was not as diplomatic. He wrote that a recent performance evaluation “describes numerous areas of unsatisfactory performance.”

“In several areas, even after I raised concerns early in your tenure and addressed them multiple times since then, you have been either unwilling or unable to improve,” DiPietro wrote before listing several areas where he was dissatisfied with her job performance.

Davenport has been placed on administrative leave until July 1, when her appointment will be “converted from your current administrative appointment as Chancellor to your full-time faculty appointment as Professor, with tenure, in the School of Communication Studies.”

With the job change, Davenport’s salary will decrease from $585,000 as chancellor to $438,750 as professor.

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