Knoxville, TN, United States (4E Sports) – Tennessee has terminated coach Derek Dooley following an embarrassing 41-18 loss to Vanderbilt that capped a second consecutive losing season for the Vols.
Dooley was informed by vice chancellor and director of athletics Dave Hart that his position with the university was terminated. His contract has a $5 million buyout that is payable over 36 months.
“We very much appreciate the effort and energy that Derek Dooley and his staff have poured into our football program at the University of Tennessee,” Hart said in a statement.
“I informed him that I believed a change in leadership, despite the positive contributions he has made to the overall health of the program, was in the best long-term interests of Tennessee football,” Hart added.
Hart said the university will begin the search for the best possible candidate to replace the void left by Hart.
Among the possible replacements for Hart include TCU’s Gary Patterson, Louisville’s Charlie Strong, Duke’s David Cutcliffe and current NFL analyst Jon Gruden.
The 44-year-old Dooley was 15-21 in his three seasons, but 0-15 against ranked opponents and won just four SEC games in 23 attempts.
“I’m sorry we could not generate enough wins to help create hope for a brighter future,” Dooley said in a statement. “Although progress was not reflected in our record, I am proud of the strides we made to strengthen the foundation for future success in all areas of the program.”
He was hired three years ago after a 17-20 record at Louisiana Tech. He went 6-7 in his first season after losing in the Music City Bowl and then last year, the Vols lost in the regular season finale to rival Kentucky to miss a bowl altogether.