Exclusive: Fulmer talks about skipping SEC Media Days

Exclusive: Fulmer talks about skipping SEC Media Days

UT head football coach Phillip Fulmer UT head football coach Phillip Fulmer

July 29, 2004

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- Tennessee head football coach Philip Fulmer spoke exclusively to 6 Sports Thursday about why he is avoiding the Southeastern Conference's Football Media Days in Birmingham, Ala. [ Fulmer to skip trip ]

Coach Fulmer is a defendant in a series of lawsuits involving the University of Alabama and the NCAA. Earlier this week, he said would not attend the media days because he doesn't want to be part of a "legal circus."

Again Thursday he said his attorneys urged him to stay home.

"Due to all the legal ramifications that we're faced with at this particular point, a lot of good attorneys -- including my own, the NCAA's, the American Football Coaches Association, the General Counsel of the University -- suggested that I not go," Fulmer said.

One of the attorneys handling the lawsuit against Fulmer, Tommy Gallion, claimed he would not serve Fulmer with a subpoena if he made the trip to Alabama. But Fulmer wasn't buying that.

"I don't quite believe all that that you hear sometimes," he said. "I don't put too much credit in anything they say right now."

Fulmer added that he regretted not being there to talk to the media about his team. "I hate that anything's been distracted from the conference and the meeting. I've enjoyed that for 12 years, certainly enjoyed being with my players. That event kicks off the season in many ways, but we'll do it from here and make out fine." 

After talking to 6 Sports, Fulmer talked to reporters gathered in Hoover, Ala. by speakerphone from his office in Knoxville.

He began with a ten-minute prepared statement apologizing for the distraction caused by his absence, but defending his decision.

"It's very important to understand that a lot of people believe the entire NCAA enforcement process is at stake.  If we have no enforcement process, all we have is chaos - much like a country with no army or a city with no police," he said.

Fulmer blasted the attorneys representing two former Alabama assistant coaches suing the NCAA. They claim Fulmer conspired with the NCAA to bring down the Crimson Tide football program, a charge he called "absurd.''

"We now have a small group of radical attorney, who on their own, have undertaken their own agenda to smear the NCAA and any one else they can along the way," Fulmer said. "These irresponsible people have alleged that there was a conspiracy between the Justice Department of the United States, the FBI, the NCAA, the University of Tennessee, and me."

"These are the same people who sued two sitting Alabama governors," he reminded.

Becoming more combative, Fulmer then took some sportswriters to task.

"A couple of you called me a coward," he charged. "I was disappointed to see that. You can talk about my coaching if we lose. You can talk about my play calling in games. You might talk about my physique if you chose to stoop that low, but coward is way over the line.

"The same people that used the space to call me a coward have used that same space to talk about cleaning up the SEC from cheating."


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