While University of Tennessee officials are not commenting on the existence of a memo of understanding between the university and Greg Schiano, the school used a similar document in 2015 that indicates a massive payout if a coach is fired under certain circumstances.
While ESPN is reporting that Schiano signed a memo of understanding with UT, a university spokesman would only say that they will take “the time allotted” to respond to an open records request by the News 4 I-Team to obtain the document if it does indeed exist.
A memo of understanding is a signed agreement between a university and a coach that is binding but is not a final contract.
“They're (UT) saying to the individual, you don't have to look for another job, you have one here. And from the coach's perspective, they're saying to the school – ‘Hey, you don't have to look for any other coach, I'm coming,’” said Bo McKinnis, a noted sports agent.
Memos of understanding include great detail about pay and other compensation, and also can contain a clause that details what will happen if the coach is terminated.
If Schiano did have a signed memo with UT, it could spell financial trouble for the school, according to McKinnis.
“I think there could be shown some damages and some responsibility on the part of the school,” McKinnis said.
The I-Team did obtain a memo of understanding between UT and basketball coach Rick Barnes in 2015. That memo clearly outlines how much Barnes will make each year of the six-year contract, including bonuses for meeting certain benchmarks, and also states what would happen if he was terminated without cause.
The memo indicates that Barnes would be paid $1 million for each contract year until the end of the deal.
If Schiano signed a similar memo, he too could have such a clause.
The I-Team contacted Schiano’s agent, the UT Chancellor’s office and the UT Athletics department to discuss the existence of such a memo, but only an athletics department spokesman responded, saying they would respond to our open records request in the time allotted to them.
The Chattanooga Free Press is reporting that Chancellor Beverly Davenport did not sign the memo of understanding, which could stunt the legal binding of the document.
The I-Team will continue to follow up to get a copy of this memo should it exist.
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