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Tennessee athletic director Phillip Fulmer confirmed that the football program’s decision to part ways with former running backs coach Robert Gillespie wasn’t mutual, but both sides handled it professionally.

Fulmer, who was speaking at the Big Orange TipOff Club in Knoxville via GoVols247 on Wednesday, revealed that Gillespie “didn’t like” being dismissed from the Vols’ coaching staff, but understood that it was a matter of “big boy business.”

“This is a big boy’s business,” Fulmer said, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. “He understood. He was very professional. We talked yesterday. It was simply a matter of Coach Pruitt doing what he thought was right for his program and Robert.

“Robert was fine. Robert is OK. He didn’t like it, I’m not saying that. But he’s OK. He understood. It’s a big boy business.”

Tennessee parted ways with running backs coach Robert Gillespie, as initially reported by Volquest.com on Tuesday.

Gillespie was the only coach retained by new head coach Jeremy Pruitt from the previous regime prior to the report. He was among the coaches officially announced as part of Pruitt’s inaugural staff last week after National Signing Day.

Gillespie was making an annual salary of $515,000, according to contact information released last week via Volquest. However, he was not offered an extension and only had one year remaining on his contract, while the rest of Pruitt’s staff currently has two or three years remaining on their current deals.

Gillespie joined Tennessee’s staff as a running backs coach in 2013 and added recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach to his title during the 2015 season.

The running back position was one of the few bright spots for the Vols during a historically bad 2017 season, as well as throughout Gillespie’s tenure.

Rajon Neal (2013) and Jalen Hurd (2015) both recorded more than 1,000 yards, while future NFL Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara flourished in a limited role during his time in Knoxville.

Gillespie was absent from Tennessee’s staff meeting on Tuesday morning, according to the report.

Former Heisman Trophy winner and recent Alabama offensive analyst Chris Weinke has reportedly emerged as a potential candidate for Tennessee’s running backs coach vacancy, according to Gridiron Now’s John Brice.

Weinke was previously reported to be the Vols’ quarterbacks coach shortly after the hiring of Jeremy Pruitt in December, but apparently turned down the position.

Phillip Fulmer reveals more details about top assistant’s sudden departure Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Jason has contributed to numerous websites in the past covering a wide range of sports including SEC football for the past four seasons. He began his journalism career as a student journalist at the University of Tennessee where he covered the Vols for the student radio station and newspaper. Here’s ...Read more
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