Tennessee has responded to the NCAA’s Notice of Allegations stemming from Jeremy Pruitt’s recruiting violations, KnoxNews first reported Thursday morning.
The NCAA provided the Notice of Allegations in July and Tennessee asked for a 30-day extension to respond to the allegations last month. The Notice of Allegations included 18 Level 1 violations. Tennessee’s response admitted that the Vols were guilt of 17 of the Level 1 violation but not the 18th and most serious— failure to monitor the football program.
“Despite the University’s monitoring efforts, athletics administrators and athletics compliance staff members were repeatedly deceived by the football program,” Tennessee responded. “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’s defense is that Jeremy Pruitt deceived the university and he and his staff committed the violations and went to great lengths to hide them from the rest of the university.
The violations included that Tennessee gave up to $60,000 in cash or gifts to players and the families of players. That included the one direct link to Jeremy Pruitt himself providing payment.
According to testimony, Pruitt provided $3,000 to a player’s home so she could have a hip surgery she could not pay for. Jeremy Pruitt later gave the same player’s mother between $300-$400 in a Chick-Fil-A bag outside of the Tennessee football program.
TV host Dan Patrick previously reported that Tennessee paid recruits with cash in McDonald’s bags but the Chick-Fil-A payment is the only reported payment in a fast food bag.
“It was the human thing, the right thing to do,” Pruitt told investigators.
Other guilty parties included Pruitt’s wife — Casey — who before marrying Jeremy worked in compliance at multiple universities including Florida State and Oklahoma as well as position coaches Derrick Ansley, Shelton Felton and Brian Niedermeyer.
Recruiting and support staff members Drew Hughes, Bethany Gunn and Chantryce Boone also committed violations.
Niedermeyer and Felton are both accused of providing inaccurate and misleading information to the NCAA.
The NCAA now has 60 days to hand down its complete punishment to Tennessee in the case. The Vols’ football program has had their best season in over two decades this fall and is hoping their consistent cooperation will lead to a lighter sentence from the NCAA.
In its response to the NCAA, Tennessee pointed to LSU’s violations during the COVID-19 pandemic, its cooperation with the NCAA and the college athletic’s governing body’s light punishment of the Tigers as the course the NCAA should chart in Tennessee’s infractions case.
“Like LSU, the University consistently took appropriate, good-faith action to deter and prevent the
COVID dead period violations,” Tennessee responded. “As noted elsewhere in this Response, the University provided the enforcement staff with 266 pages of documentation concerning its efforts to educate and monitor the
football program, particularly in the area of recruiting visits to Knoxville.
“Despite the University’s best efforts, multiple members of the football staff, including J. Pruitt, disregarded these advisements, chose to commit serious violations and went to great effort to conceal their activities.”
The 2022 Tennessee football team returns to the field Saturday to conclude the regular season against Vanderbilt. Kick off from Nashville is at 7:30 p.m. ET. Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic is on the call for the SEC Network.