Jeremy Pruitt admitted to handing cash to a player’s mother in a bag from a fast food restaurant during his tenure as head coach of the Tennessee football team.
A document obtained by the Knoxville News Sentinel revealed that a woman contacted Pruitt and asked for money.
In response, Pruitt took money from his vehicle and placed it inside a Chick-fil-A bag and gave it to the woman outside the team facility.
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The University of Tennessee received a notice of allegations in July detailing 18 Level I rule violations against the football program while Pruitt was head coach.
Pruitt coached Tennessee from 2018 to 2020. He was fired in January 2021 after the university conducted an internal investigation. Pruitt and others were fired and found to have “repeatedly misled” administrators and compliance staff who oversaw the program.
The former trainer told investigators he gave the unidentified woman the money because “it was a human thing, the right thing to do” and the money was meant to “help out with other [life] expenses,” the report revealed.
On January 19, Dan Patrick reported that money changed hands via fast food bags.
Patrick linked the McDonald’s bags full of cash to the Tennessee football violations.
The player’s mother testified before the NCAA under limited immunity last year and claimed that Pruitt gave her $3,000 in January 2019 for hip surgery. Pruitt has denied making that payment.
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“The university respectfully states that it is unrealistic to expect an institution to immediately prevent or detect the hidden and intentional misconduct that occurred in this case,” Tennessee wrote in a response first obtained by Knox News.
Tennessee concluded its investigation in November 2021.
School officials announced that Tennessee refused to self-impose a bowl ban to avoid penalizing players and coaches at the time.
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Josh Heupel was hired in January 2021 as Pruitt’s replacement. He led the Volts to a 7-6 record in 2021.
Pruitt was fired for cause and has refused to pay for his $12.6 million purchase. Pruitt could face a demonstrative cause ban, which would cast doubt on his return to coaching in the collegiate ranks.
He went 16-19 in three seasons as Tennessee’s coach.
Last season, Pruitt served as a defensive assistant with the New York Giants on Joe Judge’s staff. Judge was fired in January 2022 after two seasons in New York, and the Giants did not retain Pruitt.
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The No. 9 Volunteers (9-2) can achieve their first record 10 regular season wins since 2001 if they defeat Vanderbilt on Saturday.