Tennessee Vols’ Phillip Fulmer reportedly against June 1 return

The Tennessee Vols may be halting the Southeastern Conference’s June 1 return from COVID-19. Volunteers athletic director Phil Fulmer reportedly opposes it.

Love him or hate him, Phillip Fulmer clearly is not one to shy away from tough decisions in his current role. It appears that the Tennessee Vols athletic director was the lone voice against the SEC’s potential June 1 reopen date for athletics.

According to a report from Kentucky Sports Radio that came out Friday morning, league athletic directors met virtually on Wednesday to talk about lifting the restrictions on athletic activities, which is currently in place through May 31. While most of the people on the call supported the lift, Fulmer was apparently the only voice against it.

KSR’s source said that Fulmer argued the shutdown should be in place indefinitely but then proposed a June 15 return date. However, other athletic directors reportedly believed that such a date wouldn’t give players enough time to get ready for the season.

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This news comes a day after the news that athletic directors had set a date for a vote to reopen on June 1. Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported on Thursday that Missouri Tigers athletics director Jim Sterk said SEC presidents and chancellors will hold that vote on May 22.

Of course, even in that vote, it could be June 1 or June 15, which validates the report of Fulmer’s June 15 proposal. LSU Executive Deputy Athletic Director Verge Ausberry told the Louisiana Economic Recovery Task Force that he vote would be whether players return on one of those two dates, according to Brooks Kubena of The Baton Rouge Advocate.

How this all works out remains to be seen, but Fulmer has never been one to shy away from having the Tennessee Vols rub rival schools the wrong way. We all remember the Logan Young and Albert Means incident with the Alabama Crimson Tide when he was head coach.

What’s clear is that Fulmer is thinking from a player’s perspective, and as a guy who actually played college football and then spent over 30 years as a coach in college football, including 16 as a a head coach, he might not always bring the same administrative thought to the table. That may be a good thing too.

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Anyway, we’ll see how this plays out. Tennessee Vols leaders in general have taken the strongest stand against the SEC moving too fast amidst this pandemic. Rick Barnes was the one who voiced opposition to UT basketball’s SEC Tournament game back in March against the Alabama Crimson Tide, which wasn’t canceled until the last minute. Now Fulmer is apparently taking his stand.