KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE/AP) — University of Tennessee Vice Chancellor and Athletic Director John Currie released a statement Monday morning after the school backed out of a deal to hire Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano as the head football coach.
Currie is defending the process of his coaching search and vouching for the character of Shiano one day after negotiations between the two parties broke down amid a public backlash.
He acknowledges that the Ohio State defensive coordinator was a leading candidate for the Volunteers’ coaching vacancy without explaining why the two sides parted ways.
Currie says Tennessee “carefully interviewed and vetted” Schiano and that the former Rutgers and NFL coach “received the highest recommendations.”
The school and Schiano were close to an agreement Sunday before the deal fell apart after a protest on campus and complaints on social media from fans, state representatives, and gubernatorial candidates.
Tennessee looking to fill its coaching vacancy following the Nov. 12 firing of Butch Jones.
Related: Deal between Schiano, Vols off
The statement read as follows:
As we began our search for our next head football coach earlier this month, I promised that I would pour all my energy and effort into this process.
I have followed Coach Schiano’s accomplishments throughout his career and have been fortunate to get to know him and his family over the last several years. As reported by the media, he was a leading candidate for our position. Among the most respected professional and college football coaches, he is widely regarded as an outstanding leader who develops tough, competitive teams and cares deeply about his student-athletes.
We carefully interviewed and vetted him, as we do candidates for all positions. He received the highest recommendations for character, family values and commitment to academic achievement and student-athlete welfare from his current and former athletics directors, players, coaching colleagues and experienced media figures.
Coach Schiano worked at Penn State from 1990-1995. Consequently, we, of course, carefully reviewed the 2012 investigation report by Louis Freeh. Coach Schiano is not mentioned in the Freeh report and was not one of the more than 400 people interviewed in the investigation. We also confirmed that Coach Schiano was never deposed and never asked to testify in any criminal or civil matter. And, we conferred with our colleagues at The Ohio State University, who had conducted a similar inquiry after the 2016 release of testimony. I know that Coach Schiano will continue to have great success in his coaching career and wish him and his family well.
I am grateful for your patience as our search for the next leader for the Tennessee football program continues, and I look forward to making that introduction soon.
See also: Twitter reacts to Butch Jones’ firing