The Tennessee Athletic Commission has been given new life but it has come at a price. The Senate Finance, Ways, and Means Committee has recommended that SB0212 be passed after meeting yesterday and will be put to a vote this month. Earlier this week State Senator Mike Bell added an amendment to the bill that did a number of things that shakes up the entire Commission going forward.
The Commission will be moved from the Department of Commerce and Insurance to the Division of Regulatory Boards. The Director of the Division of Regulatory Boards will be appointed by Deputy Commissioner Bill Giannini. The new Director will serve as the executive director of the Commission instead of former Director Jeff Mullen. The new Director can appoint a designee in his absence to oversee MMA in Tennessee since Mr. Giannini will most likely not appoint someone who will have any experience in overseeing fight cards and sanctioning fights.
Senator Bell had some concerns about Mullen’s salary and benefits and thought that it was an expenditure the State didn’t need. According to the amendment the Director made $59,200 annually and his benefits were worth just under $20,000. Now with almost $80,000 off the books the Commission on paper looks a lot more viable to lawmakers. It’s believed that Mullen will serve out his term until Dec. 31st, 2015 before the changes take place.
The irony in all of this is, is that last year Mullen was one of the three finalists for the Nevada State Athletic Commissioner position out of 375 applicants. NSAC is the most powerful commission in the United States. But now Tennessee will have to do without the man who has been at the helm since 2008 and is respected all over the country.
The Volunteer State sets a dangerous precedent doing away with the Director position. Since MMA started to become legal in the United States in the past fifteen years no other state has done something like this. Most other Athletic Commissions sanction professional wrestling and receive a percentage of the gate and TV revenues which help them bring in money. Tennessee does not and ultimately the Director’s position was a casualty. Lawmakers look at the bottom line and they thought that this was the best way to keep MMA and boxing in Tennessee.
It’s not known who will be appointed the designee to oversee MMA, nor is it known how to apply.
One good thing about Bell’s amendment is that it slashes the insurance that promoter’s must carry for professional fighters. Under the old law promoter’s were to insurance each fighter for $50,000. Now it will be $25,000. This should help to encourage promoters into holding cards in Tennessee.
MMA and boxing has been spared until June 30, 2016 when the Commission could be put into sunset again. With the UFC coming to Nashville in August, Tennessee will make anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 just from that show. When you add in slashing insurance promoters are forced to carry the Commission could be in better shape fiscally than it is now when and if it is up for sunset.
To read more about what has been going on in Tennessee check out the following links.