The Jeremy Pruitt era is underway in Knoxville, but an interesting story from Tuesday indicates that Tennessee may still have to pay Greg Schiano a large sum of money after that deal fell through.
In case you somehow missed the drama, it was reported a few weeks ago that Tennessee had agreed to terms with Schiano, DC at Ohio State, on a coaching contract. The protest of fans, and even state legislators, to the potential hire eventually led to the deal falling through. In the end, John Currie would also be fired and replaced as AD by Phillip Fulmer.
The school has since moved on and hired Pruitt, but the contract originally offered to Schiano was shared on Monday. The contract would have provided a $4.4 million base salary for the coach, placing him inside the top 20 highest paid coaches in the country.
Most fans are happy to have Pruitt in place, but Tennessee may wind up having to pay Schiano for part of his deal.
Sports agent Darren Heitner explained in an article with Forbes that the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the Schiano contract was signed by both Schiano and Currie. While there were other signature lines for university officials left blank on the MOU, it could be argued that the two signatures on the document constitutes a binding agreement:
Thus, the key question is whether Currie’s signature is sufficient, under the law, to bind the University of Tennessee to the terms of the MOU, creating an opportunity for Schiano to receive a serious windfall. As Director of Athletics, one would presume that Currie has the ability to bind the University to such a contract, and a court of law may be stuck with determining whether University policy on the matter, which may require others’ signatures, is relevant to the enforceability of the document.
No claim has been filed at this time, and the issue could be resolved without ever heading to court. Still, it will be interesting to see if Tennessee winds up paying, literally, for the Schiano deal falling through.