Tennessee Vols morning report: Athletic budget back in black

The Tennessee Vols athletic department returning to a surplus in 2019 leads our Volunteers news for Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020.

We’re now halfway through January. The college football season is over, basketball is in full swing, and offseason news is the talk of the town. For the Tennessee Vols, offseason news was better than in-season news Wednesday.

Our morning update on Rocky Top leads with a positive, and it surrounds the university’s athletic budget. We also have recognition for individuals in football and men’s basketball to bring you, so things start off strong.

However, quotes from people in men’s basketball following a loss Wednesday must also be covered. Then we’ll close things out with a preview of another major event tonight along with a preview for a different sports season. Let’s start with the overall athletics news.

UT athletics at a surplus for 2019 – Blake Toppmeyer, Knoxville News Sentinel

After dealing with a $6.5 million deficit the previous year, the Tennessee Vols athletic budget reported a nearly $790 million surplus for fiscal year 2019, which ended June 30. The return to black comes with the weight of a severance package for previous athletic director John Currie and buyouts for Butch Jones and his staff lightening up.

Tennessee reported $873,806 in severance payments, the majority of which stemmed from women’s basketball coach Holly Warlick’s firing in March. That’s down from the $13.8 million in severance for the previous fiscal year.

PFF projects Jauan Jennings a first-rounderMichael Renner, PFF.com

Despite questions about his speed, Pro Football Focus has enough love for Tennessee Vols wide receiver Jauan Jennings to project him as a first-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. The site had him going No. 30 to the Green Bay Packers.

There are not many 6-foot-3, 210-pound wideouts who are as shifty after the catch as Jennings is. He broke 30 tackles on 59 catches this past season.

Yves Pons listed among most improved playersRob Dauster, NBC Sports

With is average scoring per game jumping almost nine points to 11.1, Tennessee Vols basketball junior forward Yves Pons has been listed among the most improved players this year. Pons is also averaging five rebounds a game and has dramatically improved his outside shooting, even if it has been absent in recent games.

He’s playing the four this year instead of being thrust into a spot at the two or the three. That means instead of having to run off of pindowns in order to get shots, he’s able to catch-and-shoot while facing the basket.

Rick Barnes recaps loss to Georgia – Bulldawg Illustrated

A two-game winning streak came to an end for Tennessee’s men’s basketball team Wednesday night, as they lost on the road to the Georgia Bulldogs 80-63. With the loss, they fell to 10-6 on the year and 2-2 in the SEC. Here’s a bit of what Rick Barnes said about the game.

“I’m disappointed in just about everything you can be disappointed in. I didn’t think we had a competitive fight or spirit at all, even from the beginning.”

Uros Plavsic recaps first game – Grant Ramey, GoVols247

On Monday, the NCAA reversed a previous decision and granted an eligibility waiver to Tennessee men’s basketball center Uros Plavsic, a seven-foot, 240-pound redshirt freshman who transferred from the Arizona State Sun Devils. In UT’s 80-63 loss at the Georgia Bulldogs, he had five points and three rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. Here is a bit of what he said afterward.

“I wanted the game to go in a different way, but the intensity of the game, I need to get used to the feeling — the good crowd and the environment, I haven’t played a basketball game in front of people in two years. I just think everything is about getting used to it and working hard. Whatever coach says out on the court, I am going to do it.”

Lady Vols to visit Florida – UTSports

Ranked No. 24 in the AP Poll and No. 25 in the Coaches Poll, the Tennessee Lady Vols take their 13-3 record, 3-1 SEC record and two-game winning streak on the road to face the Florida Gators Thursday night. UF has a 10-6 record and 2-2 SEC record. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. ET.

The Gators, who are tied for seventh in the SEC standings, have wins over Vandy (68-60) and Auburn (83-63) and lost to #15 Mississippi St. (93-47). Following Thursday’s battle, Tennessee next plays at home on Monday, as Alabama comes to Knoxville for a 7 p.m. contest on the SEC Network. Florida, meanwhile, gears up for a Sunday matinee at Texas A&M (3 CT/SEC Network).

Softball picked to finish second in SEC – SECSports

Southeastern Conference coaches cast their predictions for where teams will finish this season in softball. Tennessee is picked to finish second behind the Alabama Crimson Tide, and they got two first-place votes.

Points for the poll were awarded on a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 basis. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. SEC teams begin action on Thursday, Feb. 6. The 2020 SEC Softball Tournament will take place May 6-9 at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.