Every assistant coach in Tennessee’s athletic department took a pay cut proposed by the university except for eight Tennessee Football assistants.
This story has been the talk of the town, or talk of the state, for Tennessee football fans as eight assistant football coaches were the only assistant coaches in all of Tennessee’s athletic department to not take a pay cut from the university.
The pay cut that was proposed by the university was a way to offset the loss of money from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tennessee athletic department expects to finish $40 million in the red at the end of the fiscal year, so if every coach were to accept a pay cut from the university, it would help the athletic department a lot as a whole.
Of course, no coach is obligated to take less money than they agreed to, so they are entitled to all of the money they agreed to in their contract. But when every coach in the athletic department takes a pay cut to help the university except for eight very-well compensated assistant coaches, it doesn’t necessarily look great on those coaches.
It would also be a bit more understandable if Tennessee were actually good this season, but it seems like the coaching staff has regressed after another season under Jeremy Pruitt.
Tee Martin and Jay Graham were the only two Tennessee football assistants to take the pay cut proposed by the university. Jim Chaney, Derrick Ansley, Chris Weinke, Brian Niedermeyer, Will Friend, Shelton Felton, Joe Osovet, and A.J. Artis were the eight coaches that declined the pay cut, according to Knoxville News Sentinel’s Blake Toppmeyer.
It makes sense that the two alumni on Tennessee’s coaching staff (Martin and Graham) were willing to take the pay cut after they spent their playing career at Tennessee and would be willing to do more for the university and their former coach, Phillip Fulmer, who is now the Athletic Director.
It could also be argued that Martin and Graham have been Tennessee’s two most productive assistant coaches. Martin has helped turn Josh Palmer into Tennessee’s No. 1 receiver while also developing Jalin Hyatt into a future top-level receiver.
Graham is also taking a young talent in Eric Gray and turned him into Tennessee’s next big thing. The running backs and receivers are two of the best position groups on the team. Yet, the coaches responsible for these two position groups led by example, did what was best for the university, and probably bought themselves some extra brownie points with the administration, too.
Niedermeyer is probably the one assistant coach who didn’t take a pay cut that can say he’s done a good job at developing his inside linebackers and been very effective on the recruiting trail. The rest of the assistant coaches have slacked off a lot this season, and their lack of self-awareness is worrying.
If we were to judge who got pay cuts and who didn’t based on merit, Graham, Martin, and Niedermeyer would probably be the two coaches to not receive a pay cut, with the rest of them taking a pay cut for failing to do their job.
While no assistant coach should feel the need to take a pay cut, Martin and Graham will likely come out looking pretty good out of this. In contrast, the only eight assistant coaches in the entire Tennessee athletic department that didn’t take a pay cut might not come out looking great.