Tennessee's athletic department will owe head football strength and conditioning coach Mark Smith more than $300,000 if it can't prove it has justified cause to fire him, according to a memorandum of understanding acquired by the News Sentinel on Monday.
Smith is under strict review by coach Lane Kiffin and is not expected to be retained - if the two parties can come to a mutual parting. That, however, could prove to be a challenge considering the financial implications.
Smith agreed to a two-year deal in the memo that would pay him $190,000 this year and $200,000 in 2010. Smith signed the agreement Jan. 12. It went into effect Jan. 1.
If UT fires Smith, it would have to pay the remainder of the agreement if it could not prove one of the following: acts of gross misconduct; conduct of such an inappropriate nature thereby bringing the university into public disrepute; or failure of Smith to negotiate in good faith to execute the employment agreement within a reasonable amount of time.
If UT fires Smith without proper cause and he was hired elsewhere, UT would pay the difference between the compensation he is due by the university and the amount he would be paid by his next employer.
If Smith were to resign his position, he would have to repay $94,000.
Smith left a similar post at South Carolina to come to UT. Smith has a long career as a strength and conditioning coach, including two seasons in the NFL.
Smith was at his post in UT's weight room wearing Vols apparel Monday as summer workouts started. He did not participate in UT's camp for high school students and prospects.
Smith simply shrugged his shoulders when asked if there were any developments.
Former UT track and field athlete Aaron Ausmus is regarded as the leading candidate to replace Smith.
In School: Of UT's 22 signees for the 2009 class, only six aren't enrolled for the first session of summer school.
Defensive back Eric Gordon, defensive lineman Marlon Walls, receiver Zach Rogers, defensive back Michael Edwards, linebacker Jerod Askew and receiver James Green are expected to enroll for the second session of summer school in July barring any unforeseen eligibility issues.
At this point, it looks as if the Vols will be without an academic casualty.