NCAA charges Tennessee, Jeremy Pruitt with widespread recruiting violations

In an allegation notice detailing egregious recruiting violations, the NCAA outlined charges including the distribution of about $60,000 in impermissible benefits to players and their families by former Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt, his wife, his staff and at least one booster, according to multiple reports.

Of the 18 alleged Level I offenses, the most serious in the NCAA rating system, in the report, sent to the school Friday, many describe thousands of dollars in incentives provided to recruits and their families in the form of cash. , hotel stays and transportation. during or after prohibited recruiting visits. Others are related to unethical behavior in which Pruitt, his trainers and members of his staff are accused of knowingly providing incentives, then giving false information to investigators and persuading others to do the same.

Pruitt was fired in January 2021, two months after Tennessee launched an investigation. He was 16-19 in three seasons.

Violation in NCAA notice accuses Pruitt, two recruiting clerks and a booster of providing $12,707 worth of hotel stays, meals, airfare, game-day parking, furniture and household items to a 2018 player to 2020. Another alleges that Pruitt’s wife, Casey, provided $12,500 in car payments and $3,000 in rental payments to a player and his mother.

In a third allegation, the NCAA reported that at least seven players received $1,338 in cash from April through November 2020 for costs accrued from hosting recruits during unauthorized visits amid the pandemic-induced recruiting dead period.

The NCAA did not find that Tennessee lacked institutional control, which may safeguard the program from the most severe sanctions. The NCAA also credited Tennessee’s transparency, cooperation and efforts to immediately address the alleged violations.

“Receipt of our Notice of Allegations was a required and expected step in this process, a process that our university proactively initiated through decisive and transparent action,” athletic director Danny White said in a statement Friday. “This brings us one step closer to a final resolution. Until we get to that point, I cannot discuss the case in detail.”

In the 18 offenses, some players who received incentives never played for the Volunteers and others never signed up. All of the accused individuals were fired or dropped out of school after their investigation began in November 2020.

Two months later, Tennessee fired Pruitt along with two assistant coaches and seven staff members. Phillip Fulmer, previously the school’s longtime football coach and at the time its athletic director, resigned in a simultaneous move.

At the time, Fulmer and Chancellor Donde Plowman signed a letter sent to Pruitt that said his “failure to promote and maintain an atmosphere of compliance and monitor the activities of coaches and staff members who report to him, directly or indirectly, has led to the current NCAA investigation and is bringing and likely will continue to bring the University to considerable public disrepute, embarrassment, contempt, scandal and/or ridicule.”

Josh Heupel replaced Pruitt and went 7-6 in 2021, including 4-4 ​​in the SEC.

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