CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati announced Friday morning that Butch Jones will leave his head football coach job with the Bearcats for a head coaching job at the University of Tennessee.
Effective immediately, Jones is no longer the head coach at UC and the Volunteers have already welcomed him with open arms as the 24th head coach of their SEC conference football program. The details of Jones' contract with the Knoxville, Tenn., university have not yet been released.
"I would like to thank Butch Jones for his time at the University of Cincinnati," UC Director of Athletics Whit Babcock said in a news release. "With that said, we are excited about the future of this program and this job will be extremely attractive nationally. Our search will begin immediately."
There will be a press conference at UC at 10 a.m. regarding Jones' departure. Also, a press conference will be held at 2:30 p.m. at the University of Tennessee to introduce Jones as the new head coach.
In a text message to 9 News' Dennis Janson, Butch Jones said "Just couldn't pass on this one. Hope u understand, kids were great in meeting."
Jones had a meeting with the team Friday morning where he told them about his resignation. Many of the players said they were not surprised and that Jones' decision will not affect team morale.
"We want to focus on getting 10 wins, that's hard to do in college football today," said Linebacker Solomon Tentman after the meeting.
Over the past week, Jones has battled reports that he spoke with officials from several universities about coaching jobs. Jones has denied reports he accepted any offers and on Thursday he put some of the rumors to rest when he withdrew his name from consideration as the University of Colorado head coach. He reportedly turned down a five-year, $13.5 million contract offer to become the head football coach at CU.
Jones was slated to make $1.6 million in 2013 at UC, but administrators reportedly said they were willing to rework his contract again this year to keep Jones.
Steve Stripling, a 30-year coaching veteran who joined the UC staff in 2010, was named interim head coach.
"It's our job to make sure our football program continues to operate at a high level," Babcock said in the release. "It is also our responsibility to make sure our student-athletes, especially our 24 seniors playing in their final game as Bearcats, have a great experience in the Belk Bowl. We will do everything we can to make that happen."
This season, Jones led Cincinnati to a share of the Big East Conference championship for the second year in a row. The Bearcats, led by Stripling, will face Duke (6-6) in the Belk Bowl on Dec. 27 in Charlotte, N.C.
Jones replaces Derek Dooley at UT, who was fired on Nov. 18 after three losing seasons. He becomes Tennessee's third permanent head coach since Phillip Fulmer was forced out after the 2008 season.
Jones has been to Knoxville before. The Bearcats were routed by Tennessee 45-23 on Sept. 12, 2011, in Neyland Stadium. Cincinnati recovered from the loss to finish the season ranked 25th, giving Dooley his only win against a team that finished the year in the Top 25.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported the amount of money Jones would have reportedly earned at CU. We regret the error.