April 17, 2014

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Browns refute TV report Jimmy Haslam offered Jon Gruden ownership stake to coach University of Tennessee

BEREA — The Browns refuted a television report out of Memphis, Tenn., that new owner Jimmy Haslam offered a piece of the team to Jon Gruden in a package to lure him from the TV booth to the University of Tennessee, Haslam’s alma mater.

“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,” spokesman Neal Gulkis said in a statement released this morning.

Gruden also denied the report on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning” when asked if there was any truth to it.

“No, there isn’t,” he said.

Gruden, ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” analyst, is widely rumored to be ready to return to coaching and continues to be connected to the Tennessee job.

WREG in Memphis, which reported the ownership stake, reported Tuesday night he has a contract offer in hand from Tennessee and could make a decision as early as today.

CBS’s Mike Freeman reported this morning Gruden may meet with the Volunteers’ athletic director later this week.

“I’m just excited about ‘Monday Night Football,’” Gruden said on “Mike and Mike.” “I like what I’m doing. I’m just trying to hang on to the job that I have.”

Haslam is a big booster of Tennessee athletics, as is his dad, Jim Haslam, who played for the Volunteers.

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