Fulmer finds subpoena, says 'the issue is it's all crap'

University of Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer speaks to the media on Thursday at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. Fulmer was
subpoenaed to appear in an Alabama court for deposition in September.

Photo by Butch Dill, Associated Press

University of Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer speaks to the media on Thursday at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. Fulmer was subpoenaed to appear in an Alabama court for deposition in September.

University of Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer speaks to the media on Thursday at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. Fulmer was
subpoenaed to appear in an Alabama court for deposition in September.

Photo by Butch Dill

University of Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer speaks to the media on Thursday at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala. Fulmer was subpoenaed to appear in an Alabama court for deposition in September.

HOOVER, Ala. — After denying receipt of a subpoena Thursday morning at Southeastern Conference Media Days, Tennessee football coach Phillip Fulmer said later in the day that he in fact did receive an order to appear in an Alabama court for deposition in a disassociated Alabama booster's lawsuit against the NCAA.

In comments from an event Thursday night in Nashville released by the university, Fulmer defended his denials and lashed out at attorneys for overshadowing the SEC's three-day football media event.

"I wasn't expecting a subpoena, but maybe every time I go to Birmingham I probably will be expecting a subpoena," Fulmer said. "The issue is it's all crap, and they are trying to use the press, trying to use a day that's very special to the Southeastern conference for players and the coaches."

Thursday's circus was exactly what Fulmer tried to avoid in 2004, when he incurred a $10,000 fine from the SEC for skipping the event to avoid being subpoenaed.

At that time, Fulmer's attorney and university attorneys advised him to remain in Knoxville to avoid a subpoena related to a separate lawsuit brought by former Alabama assistant coach Ronnie Cottrell.

This time Birmingham attorneys representing Chattanooga car dealer Wendell Smith, who is seeking Fulmer's testimony in a defamation suit against the NCAA, managed to catch the Tennessee coach off guard.

Word of the subpoena, as well as a few photocopies of the document, began circulating around the lobby of Wynfrey Hotel shortly after Fulmer and UT's contingent arrived Thursday morning.

After the Jackson County Circuit Court clerk's office confirmed the authenticity of the subpoena Thursday morning, Chris Linton, a clerk for the Birmingham law firm representing Smith, told the News Sentinel a process server gave Fulmer a subpoena as he exited his car to enter the hotel.

Greg Case, whose signature appears on the document, told radio host Paul Finebaum he approached Fulmer's car in front of the hotel and placed the subpoena in Fulmer's lap as he was exiting the vehicle.

According to Case, Fulmer said he did not want the document, which fell to the ground. Case said he witnessed Fulmer pick up the piece of paper.

During a brief session with Tennessee media before his scheduled appearance before some 800 media members Thursday morning, Fulmer said he did not recall being approached by anyone at his vehicle.

'"I didn't see anybody particularly that wasn't a fan or wanting an autograph or whatever like that, that I recognized," Fulmer said. "When you walk in the door, there's a lot of things that all of a sudden happen."

Fulmer's attorney, Jeff Hagood, and UT associate athletic director for media relations, Bud Ford, both told the News Sentinel that an unfamiliar man gave Fulmer a piece of paper as he exited an SUV in front of the hotel.

According to Hagood, Fulmer retrieved the paper and handed it to Ford without reading it. Ford said he placed the document in his briefcase, along with other papers Fulmer was carrying, without reading it.

Fulmer offered a similar account during the Davidson County All-Sports Picnic later Thursday, according to a statement released by UT.

"Phillip was getting out of his car and focused on other things, as you might imagine, getting ready to face an audience of about 800 people or so," Hagood said. "Someone basically threw something at him. They didn't look official, as far as he was concerned. It didn't look like a law enforcement person or that ilk. He didn't pay attention to what it was."

Hagood and Ford both said that Fulmer became aware of the subpoena only after he and the rest of UT's traveling party left the hotel to fly to Nashville.

"If Phillip had a subpoena and he knew he had it, he would never lie about it," Hagood said. "This was an ambush."

When asked about the subpoena during several interview sessions Thursday, an irritated Fulmer denied having seen it.

"There are great fans that have great passion about the Southeastern Conference that are not interested in that kind of BS," Fulmer said in his final press conference of the day with newspaper and Internet reporters. "And I would have some other choice words if there weren't so many cameras in here."

Fulmer, who said in UT's statement he "wasn't trying to mislead anybody," went on to express anger in his comments in Nashville on Thursday evening.

"Because they can't win legally they are trying to play the game in the press," Fulmer said, according to UT's statement. "I am more than a little PO'd about any part of that. It's sad that a few publicity hunting lawyers in one of our sister states want to keep open a chapter of history that has long since been closed and as far as I'm concerned will stay closed.

"Obviously this is an effort to distract our football team or distract me in some way. The last time this happened we won the division with two freshman quarterbacks. We won't be distracted."

The subpoena, which was issued Wednesday in Jackson County (Ala.) Circuit Court, calls for Fulmer to be deposed Sept. 25 in Birmingham, two days before the Vols play at Auburn.

That date would likely be reset if Fulmer could show the timing is unreasonable.

If a judge grants a motion to quash the subpoena, Fulmer would not have to appear for the deposition.

The subpoena relates to a 2003 lawsuit Smith filed against the NCAA, claiming the organization and members of its infractions committee defamed him, invaded his privacy and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. The NCAA accused Smith of providing recruit Kenny Smith (no relation) $20,000 to sign with Alabama in the mid-1990's. Wendell Smith has questioned Fulmer's role as a source in the NCAA's investigation.

Kenny Smith signed with Alabama, but was not academically eligible. He later attended Tennessee on a football scholarship and lettered in 1997, although he saw little playing time.

Drew Edwards covers University of Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274.

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Comments » 123

gohawks1 writes:

When the guy handed him the subpoena, he must have thought someone just wanted his autograph.....

ctownvol writes:

I did not have relations with that woman.

thesavageorange writes:

This is a total joke.He probably never payed attention to it b/c they probably sent some pimple face intern to give it to him.He should turn it into a paper airplane and throw it out of the SUV.These attorneys are as bush league as it gets.

IBleedOrange444 writes:


Now that right there was funny. I don't care who you are.

Fulmer: "Oh that subpoena. I must've left it in my other pants."

dwolfcreek#397971 writes:

if he was in a 500 acre cow pasture and only 1 pile of cow chit , he'd step in it .

rocky_topper writes:

It's a miracle; it finally surfaced! :)

newtonrail writes:

This is just nuts. Chattanooga folks are having fun with it.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Man, hate to say it, but it looks like he prevaricated on record about this deal. Must have been rattled.


TommyJack writes:

My dog ate the subpoena.

CrankE writes:

I guess he had a chance to review the film.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

tngeoff 7:03 - this never would have happened in Swayback, Wyoming. I'd a sent Clawson to B'ham.

Notre Dame dumped GT George for a prevarication after he had the job. Bet Thornton is pleased.

Stay tuned.....

volwalk writes:

Oh oh bammer, you done pissed off the fat kid. He is about to open up a can of whoop arse on this league.
I got a feeling that with all the disrespect for UT and now this bama bs---we might go out there kick a little tail this year. 38 days boys and girls.


TommyJack writes:

PD: ND dumped an excellent coach.

drone#208075 writes:

Was there actually any news about the football team that came out of this day?

dave1#220678 writes:

TJ, if these Bammers had any sense, they would have put the doc in a fritter to give to CPF. He would have found that one!

Volwalk, you are dead on, I am glad this happened. This may have been the last kick of the "CPF dog" these guys will get. He is wide awake and ready to hunt now!

jgvol8 writes:

Must have placed it under his pizza box and found it when the finished eating his pizza.

spvol writes:

Bama cheated. Bama got caught. Bear is dead. Try to move forward into the TWENTIETH century, Bammer.


if coach Fulmer has to go to court in Alabama will the tater-diggers in Tuscalooser count that as a win on their record?

gavol writes:

What would Bear say? JUST SHUT YOUR MOUTH, AND PLAY FOOTBALL. What wimps the Tide have turned to.

gavol writes:

Around the bowl, and down the hole, ROLL TIDE ROLL!

dvols writes:

sic em smokey!!!!!!!!!!!!

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Gen W, you remember when they served Dupree for jury duty and he has the summons framed alongside his 4th place finish in the Kiwanis sack race.

He wore his over his head....

gavol writes:

Hey Vols, don't hit their wimpy line too hard; they might sue you.

invisiblekid writes:

Drone, the team is gonna work like heck and Fulmer is tired of not winning the SEC.

The KNS braintrust on site in AL must be too busy dissecting the intricacies of what constitues a subpoena to post anything else.


TennVol4Life writes:

MEANWHILE!!! Back at the ranch.....

trip19 writes:

Mental note -- don't beat Bama several years in a row. You get to go to court if you do. Auburn will be next.

FWBVol writes:

Any of you "fans" that haven't misplaced something that you knew was important...much less some piece of paper or envelope you were handed at the mall or walking campus.

I'll be the first to say I have little knowledge of the law, but I always thought when someone was being serving a subpoena the person serving it had to announce the person, in this case, Phillip Fulmer, had been served.

I've attended Media Days a few times and anyone that doesn't think it's a zoo for the coaches and thinks coach Fulmer is trying to pull a fast one is crazy.

I think it's beyond stupid that this has been going on four years. Under NCAA and SEC rules, Phillip Fulmer and any other coach that knows another school is doing something illegal must turn that school in. Other coaches testified during the investigation against Alabama, but Phillip Fulmer's name was the only one that was leaked.

Like Phillip Fulmer or not, it's time for everyone that claims to be a UT fan to stand united with our coach against some Crimson low life.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

Roiling over 125 posts on thread on ESPN.com-click college fb-read Fulmer Denies, etc.

More to come. From the bunker.

Isn't this about a matter dealing with a disassociated Bama booster suing the NCAA, not our Phillip?

invisiblekid writes:

"Isn't this about a matter dealing with a disassociated Bama booster suing the NCAA, not our Phillip?"

It used to be pd. All I can say is this wouldn't have happened in Jackson Hole.

Not much new information but there is an apparent example of an AL deposition on here :


pdhuff#552644 writes:

tngeoff 8:17- that ESPN thread is similiar to some of the offerings on forums.Kentucky.com. about Ky matters.

ikid 8:17- it would have been much simpler to acknowledged this thing as "old news" and blew it off rather than the Sgt Schultz approach "I know nothing"!

Sharks in the water. Adams is buck-dancing around his office. Don the kevlar.

vjnd3#219886 writes:

The Bear is turning over, nay spinning in his grave right now. This "so called" Bama fan and his ambulance chasers have brought more disgrace to the state of Alabama than they will ever know. GO VOLS.

invisiblekid writes:

Probably right pdhuff. Either way, Little Mike's office needs to be proactive in a hurry on this matter as it is spreading like wildfire. IMO, they should make it loud and clear that Fulmer is being asked to give testimony on an issue involving AL and their "rogue booster" and it has nothing directly to do with the Vols.

MrBamSeydu writes:

Who cares.... it's over with..... just beat the hell out of Bama and send them home to mama.

cobbwebb writes:

october 25 , its on .everyone that calls themselves volfans whether they like fulmer or not should be on campus the morning of the game and harass the piss out of anything wearing crimson. coaches , players, fans, old ladies riding hoverrounds, children ,anything.this has gone far enough and bammer should get a taste of their own medicine. come join me in this effort ,october 25, not just 100,000 plus in stadium but 2-300,000 outside stadium as well. GO VOLS !!!!!

vjnd3#219886 writes:

IK is right, Smith is a "rogue booster" and this event has nothing to do with CPF other than his testimony about Smith vs the NCAA. The timing of the situation is what gives it media hype, which is exactly what the ambulance chasers wanted.

invisiblekid writes:

Just a quick count, we have 1 article on KY's QB situation, 1 article on Saban, 1 article on Nutt, 1 article on Candace Parker, and THREE stories on Subpoena-Gate aka "Is that a subpoena in your briefcase or are you happy to see me?". Taking "if it bleeds, it leads" a little too far KNS.

oldradioguy#241544 writes:

It is not illegal to lie to pack of weasel reporters. Apparently not even a career problem.

As evidence I cite the case of Nick Saban vs. the Miami Press Corps

invisiblekid writes:

First glimpse of Clawson's new offense:


Just a joke fellas but it could be the next move against the 2-9 buzzard.


Do to Alabama what they did to us last year...Embarrass them. They beat the living phooey out of UT last season with a less superior team. This should be the same case this year. Even though I think tattling is Bush League, I see Tennessee laying the wood to Bama this year.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf

cobbwebb writes:

im tired of taking the high road. tennessee fans have always been polite and respectful to opposing fans.always turned the other cheek. well not this vol fan, all you gator lovers, bammer scum and memphis chumps on here piss off !mcdork i hope you bring your sorry @$$ to neyland this year you might be in for a treat, bring your Gator buddies with you. i cant wait for bammer to get here, looking forward to a trip to neyland on sept 20th and oct 25th, see you there chumps ill be the vol fan giving you hell, win or lose. this one might get removed but i dont care ,remove it .GO VOLS !!!!!

BigOrangeCrazy writes:

Fulmer didn't lie. He just misremembered. Must have been thinking about the buffet.

RJ_Vol writes:

invisiblekid 8:36...Couldn't agree more.

cobbwebb writes:

good cause im pissed

cobbwebb writes:

the Gator fans probably deserved it

dvols writes:

whats the biggest story of this years media days!!


gohawks1 writes:

invisiblekid (8:52 p.m.) -

You just gave away the club secret!

DennisVols writes:

The Important UT News
Fulmer Q&A at Media Days
Q. You talk about being picked third or fourth in the East. What do you think is the reason for the perception y'all have dropped off a little bit? How do you feel just about that? Where do you see your team fitting in this year?

COACH FULMER: I mean, we were picked third in '98 when we won the National Championship. I just think it's a reflection of how good this league is. It hasn't changed since I came into it or the divisional play started. It's always been Georgia or Florida or us. Now you add Coach Spurrier, what he's done at South Carolina to that equation, what Coach Brooks has done at Kentucky, and Bobby has done at Vanderbilt. The first goal has to be to win the division, and then you worry about winning the SEC Championship. Although I'm about tired of going to the SEC Championship and not winning it. I think it's three times we've been and not done that.

I think it's the fact that the division is as good as it's ever been. Whoever has those few players that make a difference and stays healthy and the schedule falls good for them, all those things, you make the plays that you need to make to win a game, it will be that close again. That's the way it's been really in my entire time at Tennessee.

Q. I know you want to talk football, but you probably want to get this out of the way right away. Were you given a subpoena in the lobby and can you confirm or deny that, and your thoughts on it?

COACH FULMER: I have not seen that. I have not seen a subpoena. As I said to all the other groups, this is not the place for that kind of thing. There are great fans that have great passion about the Southeastern Conference that are not interested in that kind of BS. And I would have some other choice words if there weren't so many cameras in here (smiling).


DennisVols writes:

Q. You're one of five coaches in the conference that won national titles, a lot of guys have won BCS and Bowl games. Talk about the coaches in this league and how tough that makes it game in and game out.

COACH FULMER: Well, you know, y'all do this more than I do. The five that have won it, then you have Tommy, who was 13 0, should have won it or could have won it at least. We had the good fortune of playing them that year. They were one of the best teams in the country.

It's about recruiting. It's about scheduling. It's about the discipline in your program. It's about a few plays and a few players that make a difference. It's that close in this league.

You can look at other conferences that have outstanding teams, the top two or three teams. But you can go from top to bottom in this conference and you better bring your A game every week or you'll get your butt beat.

Q. There was a time earlier in your tenure, during the '90s, seemed like the SEC came down to you guys and Florida, and obviously now it's a much deeper, more competitive landscape. What have been some of the factors that you've seen over your time here to get to this point?

COACH FULMER: Well, when I took over, we were all chasing Florida. We were able to catch up. Everybody was chasing us for a little while. It just goes in cycles that way.

Georgia's become a team that's won the championship two or three times. I'm talking about our division first. And schools, they're committed. They're committed to going out and hiring great coaches. They're committed to facilities and to recruit guys that can make a difference in your program. All those things, you've seen the budgets go up. It's an unbelievable commitment in the Southeastern Conference to the quality of play that y'all are blessed with and we're blessed with you're blessed to cover, we're blessed to coach, and be a part of.

I'm proud of our 16 years that we've been able to do it. I don't know how many guys are going to do it that long, you know, in the future because of the incredible amount of scrutiny and pressures and those kind of things. But the fact that we've done it right, which I hope continues in this league, you know, that those standards are set to follow the rules and do things right, that APR wise we've done it right. That's the good things that's happening in college football.

I know this is probably more information than you're interested in. You know, that we continue to be one of the group of teams that every year are going to compete not only for the divisional or conference championship, but have a chance to compete on a national level.

Last year, I don't know, most places had one and two in this country coming out of this league.

BornNBredAVol writes:

38 days, 22 hours, 22 minutes till UCLA

DennisVols writes:

Q. It's 10 years now since the National Championship. Could you just look back on the state of the union for Tennessee football, what's different, what's the same, where you've been in that 10 years now?

COACH FULMER: Well, you know, you look at the whole scenario. We were right there in '97. We won it in '98. We had a really good team in '99, had a chance. Dropped off a little bit in 2000. I think we had eight wins or whatever. We were in a recovery mode. In 2001, we were a team that had a chance to play for it. LSU did a great job and upset us in the championship game. You know, along the way probably the 2005 season being the most disappointing season that we had.

But every situation that you are given good or bad you learn from it. I think in 2005, I said this last year or the year before, you know, we assumed way too much. If anything I was taught, you don't assume anything. We won nine year before last. Won 10 this year and hopefully have laid the groundwork to make a run again at the championship. That's how we do it.

So I don't know what you're asking, the state of Tennessee football. If you go back and look at the era in the late '90s, you're talking about some really great players. You know, I think we're getting close back to that kind of athletes at Tennessee again.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about what Eric Berry brings to your defense, what he allows y'all to do as far as coverage wise and scheme wise?

COACH FULMER: You know, I was asked that in several of the rooms as we went through. I don't know if we have enough time or tape to talk about all the things that Eric Berry brings.

But, you know, one, he's got great character, great work ethic. He's a very smart young man. He takes his academics very seriously. Wants to be a dentist. He brings his A game to the practice field every day, to the weight room, wherever, to be as good as he can be. Just love all those tangible and intangible things that he brings.

If he stays healthy and continues on the path that he's on, he'll certainly be one of the best players that Tennessee has had in a long time and one of the best players that has played in the country in a long time.

I expect those things to continue. He's a humble, hungry young man. His mom and dad have brought him up right. He has his priorities in order: his faith, family, football and his team. He just is a real pleasure to coach.

Q. Can you talk about whether you like the new clock change this year, and do you see this could be advantageous as far as some of the things that Dave Clawson brings to your offense now?

COACH FULMER: You're talking about flipping the line?

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