The University of Tennessee is getting a bit of bad pub today for the fact that the school has announced it will eliminate 17 full-time jobs from its athletic department on June 1st. Some outlets are viewing this as a sign of the times and as a move to cut costs in Knoxville.
Well, yes and no. Tennessee is one of the last schools in the nation to have separate men’s and women’s athletic departments. That means there’s been a lot of duplication in a number of areas.
But as part of a plan to re-organize itself and merge the two departments under one roof, UT has been planning to make cuts for a while now. Why have a men’s and women’s PR staffs — for example — when you can just have one?
While that’s certainly sad news for those employees whose jobs are being cut, these moves will the UT athletic department the price of 17 salaries and health/benefits packages — which is roughly $1.03 million. And that doesn’t include the savings gained by combining other positions in the department.
So while this will a) save the school money and b) give new AD Dave Hart more control over the entire UT athletic program, it’s not a last-ditch effort to save a buck or two during an economic downturn. Tennessee’s consolidation of its programs has been planned for a while.
There’s just no way to pen a story about 17 positions being cut and make it look positive in the national headlines.