How Jeremy Pruitt babysitter allegedly paid Tennessee player's mom in NCAA recruiting scandal
Add Jeremy Pruitt’s babysitter to the alleged culprits in the Tennessee football NCAA case, which already included his wife. Your browser does not support this video Buried in a 108-page document responding to the NCAA notice of allegations, the university mentioned that Pruitt’s babysitter was tasked with giving money to a UT player’s mother for car payments. That’s a new revelation that was not included in the NCAA notice of allegations in July.
(AP) Tennessee is defending itself against the NCAA's Level I charge of failing to monitor the football program, saying former coach Jeremy Pruitt and nine others fired "repeatedly deceived" administrators and compliance staff overseeing the program. © Provided by WJHL Tri-Cities Vols' response to NCAA: Pruitt, staff ‘deceived' monitors
"The University respectfully submits that it is unrealistic to expect an institution to prevent, or immediately detect, the intentional and concealed misconduct that occurred in this case," Tennessee wrote in the 108-page response dated Monday and obtained first by Knox News on Thursday.
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I owe Tennessee football a thank-you. Because of the team's high-profile season, I'm now receiving literary contributions from fans outside Tennessee. © The Associated Press Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Missouri Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne) Missouri and South Carolina fans weighed in this week. But most of my emails came from disgruntled Tennessee fans after a shocking 63-38 loss to the Gamecocks.
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Tennessee started an internal investigation following a tip on Nov. 13, 2020, and found what the university chancellor called "serious violations of NCAA rules." Pruitt and nine others were fired for cause in January 2021, negating Pruitt's $12.6 million buyout after he went 16-19 in three seasons.
NCAA investigators opened a case in December 2020 and became more involved within the two weeks before Pruitt was fired.
The NCAA notified Tennessee in July of the most-serious Level 1 violations for allegations of providing impermissible cash, gifts and benefits worth about $60,000 to football recruits and their families under Pruitt. The notice of allegations said at least a dozen members of Pruitt's staff were involved in more than 200 individual violations over a two-year period.
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The university argued in its response that it "demonstrated its unparalleled commitment to integrity" led by Chancellor Donde Plowman in investigating and holding everyone accountable while protecting athletes from suffering the consequences.
The university mirror-imaged football staffers' cellphones, leading to information the NCAA noted in July that helped substantiate the alleged violations. Security footage from a Knoxville hotel also was included.
In addition to Pruitt, Tennessee fired two assistants and seven members of the recruiting and support staff. Pruitt, three of his assistants and three other staffers could face show-cause penalties making it difficult for them to get another college job after a hearing is held with the NCAA's Division I Committee on Infractions.
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"The factual information in this case demonstrates that experienced football coaches and non-coaching staff members knowingly violated longstanding and universally understood NCAA rules and went to considerable lengths to conceal their misconduct," Tennessee wrote in its response.
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South Carolina football coach Shane Beamer had a little while to compose his thoughts before speaking to ESPN after the Gamecocks' stunning 63-38 victory over No. 5 Tennessee.The Gamecocks led all game and led by multiple scores throughout the final quarter. This wasn't a nerve-racking victory, one that would have forced Beamer to grind through the final minutes. At one point, South Carolina was doubling up the fifth-ranked Vols. A stunning result, sure, but not a surprising one by those who watched on Saturday night.
The university noted recruiting visits were monitored using industry standards, including "embedding an experienced compliance staff member in the program."
Tennessee's response also cited eight specific cases for precedent where universities either self-imposed penalties or had aggravating circumstances, as well as NCAA notes from meetings in April and May on transforming its own rules for name, image and likeness and the transfer portal.
The university argued that Tennessee's infractions case will go before the Division I Committee on Infractions at a time of significant transformation in how college athletics and infractions are handled.
"Intercollegiate athletics looks dramatically different today than when the University commenced this investigation more than two years ago," Tennessee's response said.
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Tennessee wrapped up its investigation last November and announced then it wouldn't self-impose a bowl ban to avoid penalizing current players and coaches.
Former College Football Coach Blamed For NCAA Allegations
A former SEC football head coach has been blamed for the notice of allegations his school received. According to a report, the University of Tennessee has responded to its NCAA Notice of Allegations, putting the blame on former Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt. “Despite the University’s monitoring efforts, athletics administrators and athletics compliance staff members were repeatedly deceived by the football program,” Tennessee said in response to the NCAA. “The University respectfully submits that it is unrealistic to expect an institution to prevent, or immediately detect, the intentional and concealed misconduct that occurred in this case.
New athletic director Danny White, who replaced Phillip Fulmer, hired Josh Heupel in late January 2021.
The Volunteers (9-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) currently are ranked ninth and can clinch their first 10-win record in the regular season since 2001 with a win Saturday night at Vanderbilt.
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