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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — James R. Sparks has resigned as director of the University of Tennessee Pride of the Southland band in lieu of being terminated, a UT official said Tuesday.

Dr. John Peters, UT-Knoxville vice chancellor for academic affairs, said Sparks also resigned his tenured faculty position in the music department. Both resignations are effective immediately.

Sparks’ departure comes during an internal audit which has found the inappropriate handling of approximately $50,000 in the band director’s office, Peters said.

Jeff Romines will serve as interim band director until a permanent appointment is made, Peters said.

“Mr. Sparks acknowledged he mishandled these funds and agreed to pay the university for the full amount of funds uncovered by the audit,” Peters said.

According to UT auditors Sparks used university paper, postage and printing for non-UT programs and activities. He has also acknowledged that he inappropriately handled cash advance travel funds and cash from the sale of band cassette tapes and compact disks at home football games.

Peters said the audit is expected to be completed in two to three weeks. Following normal procedure, the audit report will be sent to the state comptroller and then be made public.

Contact: Dr. John Peters (423-974-3265)