The following statement was sent to us by Neal Gulkis, Vice President of Media Relations for the Cleveland Browns:
“Jimmy Haslam has no involvement in the University of Tennessee head coaching search, and the report that Jon Gruden would potentially have an ownership stake in the Browns is completely erroneous.”
(Knoxville, TN) News Channel 3 has learned former NFL coach Jon Gruden has a contract offer in hand from the University of Tennessee and a decision could be made as early as Wednesday.
Part of the offer is Gruden getting a piece of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, who were recently bought by Jimmy Haslam III, one of UT’s biggest boosters.
Haslam’s father is Jim Haslam, multi-millionaire and founder of Pilot. Jim played on Tennessee’s national championship teams in the early 1950s.
A potential hangup could be over money Gruden may be owed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from his stint as head coach there that ended in 2008.
The NFL is looking into the conflict of owning part of one team while getting money from another. If NFL ownership is included in Gruden’s deal, it would have to be tailored to conform with NCAA rules.
Gruden is currently working as an NFL analyst for ESPN.
He started his coaching career in 1986 as a graduate assistant at Tennessee where he met his wife, a former UT cheerleader.
Gruden’s two head coaching stints in the NFL were with Oakland and Tampa Bay.
He coached the Bucs to a Super Bowl win in the 2002 season.