Incase you haven’t heard, the University of Tennessee football program is in a rough spot, all because of former head coach Jeremy Pruitt.
After an extensive NCAA investigation, Pruitt was hit with 18 highest-level violations, and 200 individual infractions in a massive recruiting scandal.
With that being said, more details are emerging from the investigation.
According to Knox News,Pruitt cites George Floyd, COVID-19, and mental health as a reasoning for committing the infractions.
Pruitt says he was thinking about racial inequality, white privilege, and high-profile killings of black people while he handed a player’s mom $300 in a Chick-Fil-A bag.
It all went down in August of 2020 in the heat of the pandemic, when Pruitt said the player’s mom showed up outside the UT football complex in tears over financial hardship, saying she had no other source of money to pay the bills.
“Then you throw in George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, okay, so you sit there as a white man and you see all of this going on and you can see these kids suffering.
(It’s) pitiful when you sit in a room and you hear grown men, and I’m talking about our coaches too, when they talk about growing up and the circumstances that they’ve been under, because it’s hard for a white man to understand, right.”
He also defended his actions:
“I would do it again because I don’t think it’s breaking the rules (based on what would’ve been available through UT’s Student Assistance Fund if not for the pandemic).
I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve got little kids, and I hope one of these days when I’m dead and gone that somebody does the right thing for them.”
Once their sons were guaranteed immunity from punishment or expulsion, several mothers of players came forward and confessed that Pruitt had paid them thousands of dollars.
Pruitt’s lawyer called the moms “self-interested parents” who were taking part in “eligibility-driven interviews.”
The mom who received $300 in a Chick-Fil-A bag also said that she was given $3,000 to help with medical bills.
Another mom said he gave her $6,000 for a down payment on a car. Pruitt denied both claims. He said that they were only saying what the investigators wanted to hear in order to keep their sons eligible.
He also said he was concerned about a player’s mental health because he was living alone in a dorm, so he drove him around Knoxville to give him some company. However, the player allegedly began saying things that didn’t make any sense, so Pruitt called the UT athletics’ medical staff to help him out. When the player said he didn’t have much to eat, he gave him $100.
“And I told him, I said, ‘If you need anything else, you call me.'”
He also reportedly gave $150 to a player to help buy formula and diapers for his baby.
As punishment, Tennessee was fined $8 million dollars, however will remain playoff eligible for the 2023 season.
The school was also placed on five years of probation, and stripped of their wins during Pruitt’s seasons. His record at Tennessee will now officially be 5-19.
The Vols WILL NOT face a 2 yr bowl ban for the violations that occurred under former HC Jeremy Pruitt. What do you think about the penalties? Is a fine a good balance? Or should the penalties have been harsher? pic.twitter.com/OraQjtGPAK