Former Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt and his staff are accused of nearly 20 NCAA violations.
According to Sports Illustrated, the NCAA sent Tennessee a notice of the allegations on Friday outlining the alleged violations that occurred during Pruitt’s tenure. Pruitt was fired after the 2020 season when Tennessee said it found evidence of NCAA violations. By firing Pruitt for cause, Tennessee said there was no contractual obligation to pay Pruitt’s $13 million buyout.
The charges revolved around recruitment violations and even included Pruitt making cash payments to the mothers of two employed people. Collectively, the total dollar value of the 18 allegations is $60,000. From SI:
In the most egregious of the charges, Pruitt and his staff hosted at least six potential customers and their families on nine informal weekend visits during a year-long downtime, providing gave them accommodation, meals, transportation, household items and even furniture for a total of $12,000. Pruitt herself is accused of making $3,000 and $6,000 cash payments to two mothers of potential clients, the first being used to support medical bills and the other to prepay for a car.
Pruitt was fired after Tennessee began its own investigation into misconduct on the show. That investigation comes after Tennessee finished the 2020 season 3-7 and lost seven of its last eight games. No Vols loss has been less than 11 points.
Casey, the wife of Pruitt, a former sports department employee at two other schools, is also accused of $12,500 cash payment for those employed and their families. Seven other employees were named in the NCAA’s allegation notice. Tennessee has not been charged with a lack of institutional control since it began its own investigation into the violations.
The investigation was carried out by sporting director Danny White. He was hired to replace former Tennessee football coach Phil Fulmer after Fulmer resigned the day after Pruitt was fired for reasons. After Pruitt was fired, the coach’s former attorney threatened to sue Tennessee in an attempt to get Pruitt’s outright payment back. However, no legal action appears to have been taken in the months since Tennessee hired Josh Heupel to replace Pruitt.
“Receipt of our Notice of Allegations is a tentative, necessary step in this process – a process that our university has proactively initiated through decisive and transparent actions. Until we get to that point, I cannot discuss the details of the incident. As a university, we understand the need to take responsibility for what happened, but we remain committed to protecting our current and future student-athletes. “
Fulmer became the athletic director of Tennessee after a messy coach search resulted in the recruitment of Pruitt. Pruitt was hired following a backlash to former AD John Currie’s hiring of Greg Schiano, prompting Currie to leave the school.
Having served as an assistant in Georgia and Alabama, Pruitt had a 16-19 record in Tennessee. The Vols’ only winning season under Pruitt came in 2019 when UT won 8-5 and won the Gator Bowl. After being fired from Tennessee, Pruitt spent the entire 2021 season on the New York Giants’ coaching staff but that staff member was fired at the end of the season.