Report: Former Tennessee Coach Jeremy Pruitt Admits Paying $3,000 To Player’s Mother

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel
Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel NFS via Imagn Content Services, LLC

According to documents obtained by Knoxville News Sentinel, former Tennessee Volunteers Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt admitted that he once gave a fast food bag filled with $3,000 to a player’s mother during his tenure with the team. The woman reportedly received the money from Pruitt after requesting it from the coach. Pruitt allegedly placed the $3,000 inside a Chick-fil-A bag, then handed it to her outside of the Volunteers’ facility.

The NCAA notified Tennessee that a total of 18 violations were found during its investigation into the team. When approached by investigators, Pruitt stated that his reason for giving the woman the money was to help pay for necessities and “other [life] expenses.”

“It was the human thing, the right thing to do,” Pruitt said.

However, the mother reportedly told the NCAA that Pruitt gave her the money in January 2019 to help pay for a hip surgery.

Pruitt and his staff allegedly hosted at least six prospects and their families on nine unofficial weekend visits during the yearlong dead period, providing them with lodging, meals, transportation, household goods and even furniture that totaled $12,000. Pruitt himself was accused of giving over cash payments of $3,000 and $6,000 to two prospects’ mothers. The first allegedly was given to assist with medical bills, while the other payment was for a down payment on a vehicle.

Pruitt has coached 59 NFL Draft selections, including 16 first-round picks and 22 All-Americans. He guided the nation’s No. 1 defense in 2017, 2016 and 2013. Additionally, he was named the 2012 National Recruiter of the Year by 247Sports and was a two-time finalist for the Broyles Award (2016, ’13), given to the nation’s top assistant coach each year. Pruitt spent three seasons as head coach of the Volunteers (2018-20) before having his contract terminated in early 2021.

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