BEREA: The Browns denied a report that owner Jimmy Haslam has offered former NFL coach Jon Gruden a stake in the Browns in exchange for coaching the University of Tennessee football team.

“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,” Neal Gulkis, the team’s vice president of media relations, said in a statement released Wednesday morning.

A Memphis TV station, News Channel 3 WREG, reported that Gruden has a contract offer in hand from Tennessee and part of the deal would give Gruden a share of the Browns. Haslam, whose purchase of the Browns for about $1 billion from Randy Lerner was unanimously approved by NFL owners Oct. 16, has been a major booster for Tennessee for years. Tennessee fired Derek Dooley on Nov. 20 after he compiled a 15-21 record in three years as coach.

Gruden, an analyst for Monday Night Football, appeared on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike in the Morning on Wednesday and denied the report.

When asked if there is any truth to the report, Gruden said, “No, there isn’t. I should probably tell my wife that because it does involve her and my kids, but there’s no truth to that.”

Gruden, a Sandusky native who graduated from the University of Dayton, began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Tennessee in 1986. He met his wife, Cindy, a former Tennessee cheerleader, during his time at the school.

Gruden went on to become the coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders. He won a Super Bowl with the Buccaneers.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com.