Despite what you might read in Sports Illustrated, new Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin hasn't contributed to Knoxville's unemployment rate.
"He has not fired anybody," UT athletic director Mike Hamilton said Thursday afternoon. "If he said he has fired somebody, that's not true. I don't know if he said it from a standpoint of making a point that 'We've got to get this right.' But he didn't fire anybody.
"You can't just fire anybody at Tennessee, particularly when you're talking about non-contract employees. There's a process."
Kiffin said in a Sports Illustrated story this week that one person had been fired and others had been "run off."
After returning to Knoxville following the birth of his son last month, Kiffin had arranged for someone to pick him up at the airport, according to the article. His driver was 25 minutes late.
"I came back and within five minutes I'd fired the guy who was in charge of the guy who'd been sent to pick me up," Kiffin said in the story. "Here's the point: We need to win. That's 25 minutes that Nick Saban and Urban Meyer had that I lost because somebody was late picking me up at the airport."
Tiffany Carpenter, UT's director of public relations, said Kiffin had a change of heart about the firing.
"The (Sports Illustrated) interview happened the day of the incident," Carpenter said. "At that time, (Kiffin) wanted to fire that individual but after further thought and discussions decided that was not in the best interest of Tennessee."
Attempts to reach Kiffin were unsuccessful.
Hamilton said he knew Kiffin was upset after he arrived at the airport.
"He was ready to go to work and there wasn't anybody to pick him up," Hamilton said.
"I think that he's trying to set the tone for the kind of program he wants to run. I'm very much OK with him letting folks know that he's going to run a very disciplined program and there will be high expectations in terms of those who work in the football program, and letting the fans know that (Kiffin and his staff) are coming to work every day and giving their all to the job."
Based on the Sports Illustrated article, Kiffin wasn't pleased with the work ethic of the support staff he inherited from Phillip Fulmer.
"You can't count the number of people we've run off because they couldn't keep up, and I'm including secretaries," Kiffin said in the story. "They had to go because they weren't going to make it, and they knew it."
Although no secretaries were fired, two secretaries have left the football office, according to Hamilton. He said one secretary retired, and another was reassigned.
Mary Jo Fox, who was the administrative services assistant to Fulmer, has been reassigned. Hamilton said she will serve as Fulmer's secretary in his office in Stokely Athletic Center.
Fulmer requested the office space a couple of weeks ago after being promised the privilege by Hamilton when Fulmer was forced to resign. Fulmer is not employed by the UT Athletic Department.
Sports editor John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.