Tennessee, former AD John Currie agree to $2.5 million settlement

Tennessee and former athletic director John Currie reached a separation agreement Thursday that will pay Currie $2.5 million.

Currie, who was dismissed from his post Dec. 1 amid the school's controversial and lengthy search for a football coach, will receive a one-time payment of $2,220,454.60 by April 1. He has already been paid his salary from December through February. The athletics department will entirely fund the separation agreement, which has been approved by Tennessee's chancellor, system president and board of trustees.

"We wish John and his family well in their future endeavors," Tennessee chancellor Beverly Davenport said in a prepared statement. "We are grateful for his contributions to the University of Tennessee, which began more than two decades ago."

Currie was named Tennessee's athletic director on April 1, 2017, receiving a five-year contract, after he spent eight years in the same role at Kansas State. Tennessee fired football coach Butch Jones on Nov. 12, and two weeks later Currie had chosen Jones' successor in Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. Although the two sides agreed to a memorandum of understanding Nov. 26, Tennessee backed out of the agreement hours later after a strong backlash from fans.

Currie continued to pursue candidates like Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, NC State coach Dave Doeren and Washington State coach Mike Leach, but ultimately was placed on administrative leave. Former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer took over as athletic director and hired Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as coach on Dec. 7.

Currie took to Twitter on Thursday night to wish the university community well.

In a reference letter written by Davenport on Currie's behalf and obtained by ESPN.com, Davenport praises Currie for restoring the Lady Vols name and logo, bringing Fulmer back to the university and creating positive relationships with campus organizations. She also noted his fundraising success in expanding the Neyland Stadium renovation project.

"John was my first hire at UTK," Davenport writes in the reference letter. "He met all of the qualities I was looking for: a sitting athletics director at a Power-5 institution; someone committed to student success; and someone who was committed to winning the right way. Other immediate impressions related to John's intensity, high energy and excellent interpersonal skills."

As part of the agreement, Currie will pursue no legal action against Tennessee. The agreement also states that Currie has disclosed any known NCAA or SEC rule violations to Tennessee during his time as athletic director. He also must cooperate fully with any university or NCAA investigations pertaining to his time as athletic director.

Currie is finishing a week of teaching as an executive in residence at Robert Morris University's business school. He's scheduled to speak at several conferences in the next few weeks.