Vols, Tar Heels working on buyout

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- The scheduled series between North Carolina and Tennessee, which was to be played in 2011 and 2012, will likely be shelved.

Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said Monday night that nothing has been finalized, but that the two sides are currently in the process of trying to work out a contract buyout.

With an already demanding schedule in 2011, Tennessee had requested that the North Carolina series be pushed back until later this decade, according to Hamilton. But the Tar Heels weren't interested in moving the series, leading to the current talks centered around Tennessee paying a penalty to get out of the series and nixing it all together.

"I would love to play North Carolina and we wish we could play this series. But in looking at our 2011 schedule, it's tough," Hamilton told ESPN's Joe Schad. "We're playing this fall with 71 or 72 guys on scholarship and we want to get our program back to where we need to be. We wanted to lighten up the load a bit."

Tennessee was scheduled to play in Chapel Hill in 2011 with North Carolina scheduled to go to Knoxville in 2012. The Vols' 2011 nonconference schedule also includes Cincinnati, and Hamilton said he wanted to "break up" that stretch of games that starts with Cincinnati the second week of the season, then includes trips to Florida and North Carolina followed by home games against Georgia and LSU and then a trip to Alabama.

With North Carolina likely to come off Tennessee's schedule, Hamilton said the plan was to add an eighth home game during the 2011 season against a non-BCS team.

Tennessee opens the 2011 season against FCS power Montana, which was a recent replacement for North Texas.

Chris Low covers the SEC for ESPN.com. Information from ESPN's Joe Schad was used in this report.