Tennessee trying to back out of games

The University of Tennessee is trying to back out of its deal to play football games against North Carolina in 2011 and 2012.

The series between the Volunteers and Tar Heels was scheduled several years ago, but the UT athletic department is citing a tough schedule as a reason to drop the game.

“We’re playing this fall with 71 or 72 guys on scholarship and we want to get our program back to where we need to be,” UT athletic director Mike Hamilton told ESPN.com. “We wanted to lighten up the load a bit.”

UNC is adamant about keeping the Volunteers on its schedule, despite the possibility of receiving $750,000 in a buyout contract if Tennessee does back out. Having a team with the tradition of Tennessee on the schedule brings national attention to the football program, something the UNC athletic department has been working hard to do.

“We’d like to play the game,” UNC AD Dick Baddour said. “We’ve communicated that to Tennessee and they know that we’d like to play the game. For reasons that they’ve said to the media that its not in their best interest to play the game, we would expect them to submit documentation that would put them in a position to not play the game.”

Finding another team to fit into the schedule is another problem facing UNC. With just over a year separating the Tar Heels from their scheduled meet against the Volunteers, it would be difficult to find a replacement for that week with the same tradition, respect and talent like Tennessee.

“We’ve been working on (finding a replacement) as hard as we know how,” Baddour said. “We’ve been very aggressive. We may have to (settle for a FCS team). We’d love to have a program that’s at that status. I wont say it’s impossible, but it’s very difficult to find at this stage.”

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