Whew. It’s safe to say the Tennessee Volunteers are in hot water with the NCAA.
According to Knox News, the school has received a notice of allegations from the NCAA regarding 18(!) Level I violations, the most severe level. They allege $60,000 of cash or gifts provided to players and their families by former head coach Jeremy Pruitt, his wife, numerous other coaches, recruiting staff, and at least one booster.
There was no lack of institutional control charge, but with 18 Level I’s, there’s still going to be significant punishment imposed.
Here are some notable excerpts from the report.
The NCAA contends Pruitt and his staff gave players cash and gifts throughout his tenure with the Vols from 2018-21. And it says that his wife, Casey Pruitt, paid more than $15,000 in rent and car payments for a Tennessee player and his mother over 2½ years.
Tennessee paid $1.12 million in legal fees to the firm Bond, Schoeneck & King from November 2020 to February 2022 to work on the NCAA case, according to invoices the university provided to Knox News after a public records request. The most recent fees, which are billed quarterly, are not yet available.
It also turns out former Kentucky Wildcats assistant coach Derrick Ansley was involved in the alleged violations while working for Tennessee from 2019-20.
They include infractions allegedly committed by Jeremy and Casey Pruitt; assistant coaches Derrick Ansley, Shelton Felton and Brian Niedermeyer; and recruiting staff members Drew Hughes, Bethany Gunn and Chantryce Boone.
Tennessee now has 90 days to respond to the notice of allegations. After that, the NCAA enforcement staff has 60 days to reply to those responses.
Looking around college athletics for a potentially comparable situation, the Ole Miss football program was charged with 15 Level I violations back in 2017 for similar violations, then received a two-year bowl ban and later had 33 wins vacated.
So, it stands to reason that Tennessee is in serious danger of having at least a one-year bowl ban. Perhaps they’ll self-impose one this year, though my guess is they’ll let this play out and try to fight the allegations.
July 22, 2022