Documents show Derek Dooley was unhappy with VFL program under Andre Lott

Andre Lott, former character education coordinator, University of Tennessee football

Photo by J. Miles Cary, Business Journal

Andre Lott, former character education coordinator, University of Tennessee football

Failure to manage "at-risk" players was one of the reasons cited by Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley for dismissing Vol for Life coordinator Andre Lott last month.

Documents released by the school in response to an open records request from the News Sentinel suggest Dooley was unhappy with Lott's leadership in the program, which was created in 2010 to help players in the areas of character education, life skills, career development and spiritual growth.

In a June 28 meeting to discuss Lott's job performance, Tennessee senior associate athletics director David Blackburn told Lott that Dooley believed he had failed to meet several goals for improvement, including work on a VFL website and brochure.

Blackburn said Dooley also was concerned about a lack of programs to assist players in off-the-field development and Lott's failure to help "manage at-risk players."

Lott was the team captain in 2001 under coach Phillip Fulmer. He went on to play six seasons in the NFL with the Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers and Pittsburgh Steelers, before becoming a high school coach and administrator in Tennessee. He declined to comment for this story, but said earlier this month that he wanted to stay in education.

Lott, who received an annual salary of $56,000, was terminated on July 31. He did not receive a severance, according to UT.

According to the notes from the June 28 meeting, Lott said Dooley hadn't given him enough direction for the VFL program and that it was difficult to communicate with the coach.

Dooley said earlier this month that he wanted to take VFL to "another direction, another level."

"Andre's not working for us now, but he's still part of the family," Dooley said. "This will be a great opportunity to reshape it after we started this from scratch two years ago."

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Correspondence regarding Tennessee and former VFL coordinator Andre Lott

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Comments » 92

voloffaith writes:

"You know it's always something..." famous Rosanne Rosannadanna....SNF Can't we all just get along?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

I find this to be a shocking revelation..NOT!

lemme_axya_this writes:

in response to voloffaith:

"You know it's always something..." famous Rosanne Rosannadanna....SNF Can't we all just get along?

"I have taken the oath of government, and enrolled my name as a VOLUNTEER".-Davy Crockett approx. two mos. before he died at the Alamo.
He probably didn't use all caps when he penned that.

wagee12 writes:

Thanks for more muck raking by the drive by media. Obviously the guy wasn't let go because he was doing a terrific job with Dumbrick!

PUL4VOLS writes:

Whomever leads it we need the VFL program and need it to be effective. I will not take the mere words of this article to tell the whole story on Andre Lott's efforts. He is still a great guy in my book and thanks goes to him for the efforts he made while getting the program going. I wish him well as he moves on.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

I think the VFL program maybe needs to pay more than $56K. I think, if it's effective, it's worth more than that.

ambrown64 writes:

Putting programs together, and driving things at a program level is a business and administrative skill. You can be very good at managing events and problems, but still lack this specific skill. Designing a program, creating a cookbook for repeated success and then implementing and fine-tuning may just be a skill set that Andre did not have. Same with designing and driving a web presence. He could be a great guy and a good support to the players, but still not know how to drive and mature VFL at a program level. Based on the comments and disconnects, this is exactly what it sounds like.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

I think the VFL program maybe needs to pay more than $56K. I think, if it's effective, it's worth more than that.

Perhaps they could get a grant and bump it up to 57,000 a year with WIC and section 8 housing as perks.

GreerVol22 writes:

in response to ambrown64:

Putting programs together, and driving things at a program level is a business and administrative skill. You can be very good at managing events and problems, but still lack this specific skill. Designing a program, creating a cookbook for repeated success and then implementing and fine-tuning may just be a skill set that Andre did not have. Same with designing and driving a web presence. He could be a great guy and a good support to the players, but still not know how to drive and mature VFL at a program level. Based on the comments and disconnects, this is exactly what it sounds like.

i was just about to say the same thing. I don't think Lott is a bad guy, but Dooley probably gave a a 30,000 foot scope of the job and basically said...don't let anyone get in trouble and get people to buy in...There is a special skill set involved in pulling something like that off...and coach doesn't have time for hand holding.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to ambrown64:

Putting programs together, and driving things at a program level is a business and administrative skill. You can be very good at managing events and problems, but still lack this specific skill. Designing a program, creating a cookbook for repeated success and then implementing and fine-tuning may just be a skill set that Andre did not have. Same with designing and driving a web presence. He could be a great guy and a good support to the players, but still not know how to drive and mature VFL at a program level. Based on the comments and disconnects, this is exactly what it sounds like.

Agreed. I think the program needs an administrator to run it, and guys like Lott to be out in the trenches. I might be possible to get a guy who can do both, but there are more than 100 players (including the walk-ons) on the roster, and I think the program shouldn't be limited to only the football team. It should include the entire athletic program.

vut5686#1405392 writes:

Let's see: Lott relieved from his duties, Dooley states he wants the VFL to move in another direction and is complimentary of Lott as part of the Vol family. Now, KNS, in a major scoop, informs us that "..documents show Dooley was unhappy with VFL under Lott."

Why are we not surprised? KNS digs up documents to tell us what we already know. Some scoop. Next they will likely tell us where Hoffa is buried.

bogey74 writes:

The News Sentinel never ceases to amaze me with the quest for negative stories. Tabloid journalism is indicative of slumping customer base and poor executive leadership.

louavol writes:

in response to ambrown64:

Putting programs together, and driving things at a program level is a business and administrative skill. You can be very good at managing events and problems, but still lack this specific skill. Designing a program, creating a cookbook for repeated success and then implementing and fine-tuning may just be a skill set that Andre did not have. Same with designing and driving a web presence. He could be a great guy and a good support to the players, but still not know how to drive and mature VFL at a program level. Based on the comments and disconnects, this is exactly what it sounds like.

Excellent analysis. This position doesn't sound like one that a former professional athlete is qualified for unless he/she has either a business degree or experience in strategic thinking, planning and program development. Especially if, as Lott implies, he was given little or no direction by Dooley.

BigBadVol writes:

CDD showed a lot of class along with Andre in this matter. Obviously, CDD expectations were higher than Andre's. I trust the head coach.

thevoice writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

I think the VFL program maybe needs to pay more than $56K. I think, if it's effective, it's worth more than that.

Agreed. $156,000 ought to be more like it.

10seVol85_Part_Deux writes:

in response to louavol:

Excellent analysis. This position doesn't sound like one that a former professional athlete is qualified for unless he/she has either a business degree or experience in strategic thinking, planning and program development. Especially if, as Lott implies, he was given little or no direction by Dooley.

This is from his bio as VFL coordinator:

"Lott returned to Knoxville from West Tennessee where he was an assistant football coach, head track and field coach and Success Coordinator in the Hardin County school system. As Success Coordinator, Lott taught kids of all age groups real life skills, dealing in the Savannah community with such issues as broken families, drug use, bullying and teen pregnancy."

I don't know what he majored in, or what other experience he has, but he did at least have some experience with a similar type of program. It sounds more like he may lack the administrative skills, as stated earlier, or that the program is just too big for him to do both.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to voloffaith:

"You know it's always something..." famous Rosanne Rosannadanna....SNF Can't we all just get along?

It has never happened in the History of Mankind. It will most likely never happened as long as a man can think for himself. But given time the government will take care of that little problem.

thevoice writes:

Still looking for something, anything, that Dooley touches to turn to gold. Wins/losses are only part of it. Thought it would have happened by now.

lafollette37766 writes:

Maybe Dooley needs to put in writing exactly what he expects from the next VFL director along with a list of goals to be reached within a certain amount of time. From the way I read the article maybe that was missing from the program.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to lafollette37766:

Maybe Dooley needs to put in writing exactly what he expects from the next VFL director along with a list of goals to be reached within a certain amount of time. From the way I read the article maybe that was missing from the program.

Uhhh, keep these unruly hooligans in line?? How much simpler do you need to go before it's obvious Lott was not on the case??

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to thevoice:

Still looking for something, anything, that Dooley touches to turn to gold. Wins/losses are only part of it. Thought it would have happened by now.

As a business analyst, I would agree that thus far there has been no evidence of success. Where we tend to part ways is that I recognize time based upon starting provisions. Is Dooley the guy? There is not enough "apples to apples" evidence yet. The true differences between you and I? I admit that my conclusions are based on lack of info and you just make random negative statements. If you are correct, you will proudly boast. If you are incorrect, you will just change your screen name and produce different negativity.
Even the basis of your tactics suggest the immediate need to ignore.

louavol writes:

in response to lafollette37766:

Maybe Dooley needs to put in writing exactly what he expects from the next VFL director along with a list of goals to be reached within a certain amount of time. From the way I read the article maybe that was missing from the program.

IMO, your post is the definitive "last word" on this subject. I think you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. As you have so aptly demonstrated, it's always the simplest and most common sense solution that is the answer.

HallowedHill writes:

I like that Dooley wants the VFL guy to spend the most time with the "at-risk players." I also think they need to pay a LOT more given the potential challenges.

GO VOLS!

tuvol4u (Inactive) writes:

in response to lafollette37766:

Maybe Dooley needs to put in writing exactly what he expects from the next VFL director along with a list of goals to be reached within a certain amount of time. From the way I read the article maybe that was missing from the program.

I think part of it was he was expecting Lott to know what to expect of the VFL program without giving a foundation to start with. Its partially Dooleys fault here. And yes, Lott can relate with the players on the field, but he probably doesnt have the necessary administrative skills Dooley is looking for, and perhaps Dooley needs to make that clear for the next person.

I still think Dooley is doing right by having a VFL program and it can do wonders given the right mentor who can not only relate with players, but also command the VFL program so that it evolves.

UTistheOLEMISSoftheEAST writes:

The Vawl for Life Coordinator fired by a coach who will have been a vawl for three years or less when he is canned. Classic ut vawl stuff right there!

louavol writes:

in response to 10seVol85_Part_Deux:

This is from his bio as VFL coordinator:

"Lott returned to Knoxville from West Tennessee where he was an assistant football coach, head track and field coach and Success Coordinator in the Hardin County school system. As Success Coordinator, Lott taught kids of all age groups real life skills, dealing in the Savannah community with such issues as broken families, drug use, bullying and teen pregnancy."

I don't know what he majored in, or what other experience he has, but he did at least have some experience with a similar type of program. It sounds more like he may lack the administrative skills, as stated earlier, or that the program is just too big for him to do both.

I hear what you're saying. Sounds like Lott was exposed to the issues he was asked to deal with in his position at UT but was not TRAINED to do so in his high school position. I think you're absolutely right in that Lott didn't have the formal skills necessary to create a program at the level needed by UT. This is a big dang job, frankly. And, to think that paying someone 56K to do it is crazy. I don't see this as Andre Lott failing as much as I see Derek Dooley not hiring the right person for the job.

Clarkrm0706 writes:

in response to UTistheOLEMISSoftheEAST:

The Vawl for Life Coordinator fired by a coach who will have been a vawl for three years or less when he is canned. Classic ut vawl stuff right there!

Don't often respond to stupid posts but yours (along with Bodeannes) put things in perspective. When I first joined this site, even trolls offered legit points of contention but you guys just spout ignorant rants. As a favor I plead that you offer something or just not consume the time of those of us deprived, with childish drivel.

CrankE writes:

Maybe VFL should have charts like Fulmer's last couple of teams. Charts work like MOFOS at The Hecktagon!!!

thevoice writes:

in response to Clarkrm0706:

As a business analyst, I would agree that thus far there has been no evidence of success. Where we tend to part ways is that I recognize time based upon starting provisions. Is Dooley the guy? There is not enough "apples to apples" evidence yet. The true differences between you and I? I admit that my conclusions are based on lack of info and you just make random negative statements. If you are correct, you will proudly boast. If you are incorrect, you will just change your screen name and produce different negativity.
Even the basis of your tactics suggest the immediate need to ignore.

Not sure what was not a fact from my previous post. But on the subject of opinions, I believe that's for what chat boards are. Thanks for yours.

Where I part ways with many posters on here is the ability to face and admit the facts, whether good or bad, and not base opinions on hope, but rather an assessment of performance of like circumstances (al la, Dooley as a head coach). I graduated from and sweat for this university and am happy to critique anything about it that doesn't meet expectations, including the direction of this football program, to which I've contributed thousands.

Until the only teams we beat in the SEC are not the bottom quarter; until we go better than 1-7 and whatever the year before; until we recruit players that are just as good or better than our SEC foes; until we possess a coach that isn't on the learning curve regarding game and 1-on-1 player management; until we retain our assistant coaches long enough to develop schemes and continuity and possess a head coach who knows how to hire assistants and VFL administrators... As far as in-game complaints: until we have a head coach who can develop a run game and special teams game...

Until excuses stop, we ain't going nowhere.

Just the facts.

UT '88

Intelligent response only.

LiveFaith writes:

in response to vut5686#1405392:

Let's see: Lott relieved from his duties, Dooley states he wants the VFL to move in another direction and is complimentary of Lott as part of the Vol family. Now, KNS, in a major scoop, informs us that "..documents show Dooley was unhappy with VFL under Lott."

Why are we not surprised? KNS digs up documents to tell us what we already know. Some scoop. Next they will likely tell us where Hoffa is buried.

Stupid. Everybody knows Hoffa is buried under Neyland right at the goal line where Jabar Gaffney's non-catch was caught.

BreatheUT writes:

I agree that the tasks and responsibilities required for this role need a bump up in pay.

VolFanInTheBoro (Inactive) writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Little z, you claim to live in Florida and go to the Gayta games. You must actually live near Knoxville to listen to the Animal. I believe this proves you are a KNS plant. Or else you listen to the Animal via the internet or satelite radio which means you are unbelievably obscessed with the Vols

tovolny writes:

in response to thevoice:

Agreed. $156,000 ought to be more like it.

Yes guys, I think you hit it on the head. At 56 k he might have been somewhat involved in a second or part-time job. The VFL leader needs a staff of at least an assistant and secretary. These type positions often don't get respect. Can you imagine trying to get Dooley's staff to do some clerical shores and such? RESPECT the job enough to pay a college type salary. I know if I was trying to obtain an up-to-date computer capable of doing what was required and Dooley denied my request, I would also quit. Part of being a leader is to provide your employees with the necessary tools to do their jobs. I hope what happened was that Dooley was so occupied with football that he let this slip. GOOD IDEA DOOLEY, now staff it up with good people or just forget it. You know, it is hard to make a nice purse out of a sow's ear.

Classof72 writes:

I guess there was no point in keeping the VFL guy, when nobody could get them to be 'Vols for 4 Hours' at the Kentucky game. Roll Heads, Roll. As Vince Lombardi told the Green Bay Packers: "I may lose, but I won't lose with the same old faces."

This is a new season, with lots of opportunity for new faces. I wish them all success. GBO!

PUL4VOLS writes:

in response to thevoice:

Not sure what was not a fact from my previous post. But on the subject of opinions, I believe that's for what chat boards are. Thanks for yours.

Where I part ways with many posters on here is the ability to face and admit the facts, whether good or bad, and not base opinions on hope, but rather an assessment of performance of like circumstances (al la, Dooley as a head coach). I graduated from and sweat for this university and am happy to critique anything about it that doesn't meet expectations, including the direction of this football program, to which I've contributed thousands.

Until the only teams we beat in the SEC are not the bottom quarter; until we go better than 1-7 and whatever the year before; until we recruit players that are just as good or better than our SEC foes; until we possess a coach that isn't on the learning curve regarding game and 1-on-1 player management; until we retain our assistant coaches long enough to develop schemes and continuity and possess a head coach who knows how to hire assistants and VFL administrators... As far as in-game complaints: until we have a head coach who can develop a run game and special teams game...

Until excuses stop, we ain't going nowhere.

Just the facts.

UT '88

Intelligent response only.

Deal with this fact voice, you and so many like you are not realistic in spouting out all the negativism toward a coach who has not been given time to do what needs to be done to rebuild the Volunteer football program. Heck he's had to be here as it continued to fall. Meanwhile, you and many like you, criticize those of us who do not necessarily like many of the facts you mention but we choose to remain supportive of the team and we plan to give the head coach some more time before we "fire" him as you and your kind....oh you can't do it you aren't in charge just like we aren't. So assess that factually and opinionatiously. Obviously one fact we all must deal with, like him or not, Derek Dooley is the head coach for now. Or am I being unrealistic in that assessment?

mytrifecta writes:

really? This is where Dooley spends his time? He better be laser focused on winning games...otherwise he will have no input in the program when hes coaching highschool next year.

Snapshot writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

This from a troll with Vol in his screen and who listens o 990 yet claims to be a gater. Yep the Vols are difinitely in your head. It must really gall you to have to type Vol everytime you want to share your dumbazz comments!

I'll bet you wold take the job,you probably won't earn six figures in your pathetic lifetime.

Pullingguard writes:

Hard to communicate with. I believe this.."Lawyers are that way, good football coach,s are not.

Huttdawg100 writes:

I gotta be honest. This Da'Rick situation was like a shot to the gut. Everything was moving along in a positive manner, but then.... Boom!!! VFL sounds good, but why aren't we winning? Why aren't our best players producing on the field? I'm not putting this on Lott. If Da'Rick was a problem, why not bench him in 2011? Suspend him for offseason workouts? What does that do? We lost Arnett and Baggett over this guy. But Da'Rick went unpunished. That's not on Lott. That's on Dooley.

I was so optimistic about this year, but now, my faith is wavering. I still think we should will be ok, but I'm getting nervous. If we lose to Florida or NC State, we've got to make a change.

ZTaylor writes:

For a limited time, govols247.com is giving you the opportunity to try the site FREE for the rest of the year.

WHAT? They are not selling enough memberships and no one is reading what they are writing?

REALLY?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Why do you go on the internet for local radio?

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to Huttdawg100:

I gotta be honest. This Da'Rick situation was like a shot to the gut. Everything was moving along in a positive manner, but then.... Boom!!! VFL sounds good, but why aren't we winning? Why aren't our best players producing on the field? I'm not putting this on Lott. If Da'Rick was a problem, why not bench him in 2011? Suspend him for offseason workouts? What does that do? We lost Arnett and Baggett over this guy. But Da'Rick went unpunished. That's not on Lott. That's on Dooley.

I was so optimistic about this year, but now, my faith is wavering. I still think we should will be ok, but I'm getting nervous. If we lose to Florida or NC State, we've got to make a change.

That's ridiculous..Remember when MR lost his first two games of the season and he was squarely on the hot-seat before those losses..You didn't see UGA flake out and fire him two games into the season, and the patience paid off with a solid season the rest of the way.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to HOW_BOUT_DEM_COWBOYS:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

No doubt, and Harris looks like a man possessed this year..Go Pokes!

roloyo writes:

in response to vut5686#1405392:

Let's see: Lott relieved from his duties, Dooley states he wants the VFL to move in another direction and is complimentary of Lott as part of the Vol family. Now, KNS, in a major scoop, informs us that "..documents show Dooley was unhappy with VFL under Lott."

Why are we not surprised? KNS digs up documents to tell us what we already know. Some scoop. Next they will likely tell us where Hoffa is buried.

Where Hoffa is buried??? Are you kiddin me, I didn't even know he was sick

CoverOrange writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Man, you must have a lot of free time on your hands = no life.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to BodeaneVol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You listen to Jackson Tn radio?? That's really weird..I live here and I don't tune in to those idiots..

copia69296 writes:

Why is the VFL program under the guidance of the head football coach. Is playing football the only criteria for being a part of the VFL?

I think this position falls under the responsibility of the AD with all coaches participating. The AD has the staff and connections to provide programs and mentors.

manniesghost1903 writes:

I do not see any reason for a program like VFL to be under the supervision of the head football coach. I believe at the very least it should be under the supervision of the Athletic Director and more likely by the University President.

Most of these young men sign grants in aid with the idea of becoming NFL professionals. Few will ever succeed (see Da'rick Rogers). Since UT and all other major colleges make money or at least try to be profitable as a result of these efforts, it seems only fair the universities do something for these young men and women to make it possible for these individuals to have a reasonable post college life in more ways than college text books provide. I feel this should be the principle goal of a VFL program.

Right now the colleges tend to use these people up during their college career and then discard them, much like the politicians over the last 10 years have used up our young men and women in the military and then discarded them.

BruisedOrange writes:

Designing the next iteration of something is one thing.

Designing AND implementing something that never existed before is quite a different task.

From the start, mistakes were sure to be made and learned from. What none of us will know is how much of Lott's groundbreaking effort will remain part of the permanent foundation.

Thank you Andre for contributed to the program we love and support. I'm confident you've made a difference in numerous individual lives.

BigOrangeFever76 (Inactive) writes:

in response to UTistheOLEMISSoftheEAST:

The Vawl for Life Coordinator fired by a coach who will have been a vawl for three years or less when he is canned. Classic ut vawl stuff right there!

Flowers....please regale us with all your accomplishments since you left UT over 40 years ago. Go ahead....I have at least 2 minutes which should be plenty of time. Slimeball.

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