KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Phillip Fulmer, Tennessee's former Hall of Fame football coach, has emerged as a prime candidate to be the Vols' next athletic director, sources told ESPN.com.
When contacted Monday by ESPN.com, Fulmer would not address specifically the Tennessee athletic director's job, but he also wouldn't rule out that he could be a candidate.
"Since I was 18 years old, UT's best interests have always been my interest," Fulmer told ESPN.com. "I want what is best for UT. Dr. [Beverly] Davenport [UT's newly named chancellor] has laid out a clear process, and we have to respect the time and her vision to complete that process."
Tennessee is looking for a replacement for Dave Hart, who announced his retirement in August and is under contract until June. Hart, though, is expected to step down before June.
Other names most commonly mentioned in connection with the Tennessee athletic director's job are Chattanooga athletic director David Blackburn, who previously worked in athletics in several different capacities at Tennessee, and Jon Gilbert, Tennessee's current executive senior associate athletic director.
Fulmer, 66, spent more than 30 years at Tennessee as a player, assistant coach and head coach. He was 152-52 in 16 full seasons at his alma mater as head coach and led the Vols to their first national championship in 47 years in 1998.
After his second losing season in four years in 2008, Fulmer was fired. Since then, the Vols have had three different head coaches and haven't played in an SEC championship game. In Fulmer's last 12 seasons, Tennessee made five SEC championship game appearances but went 10 years without winning one after capturing back-to-back SEC crowns in 1997 and 1998.