The Curious Case Of Former Tennessee Football Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt’s NCAA Violations Now Includes His Babysitter

Jeremy Pruitt scandal
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The curious case of former Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s NCAA violations now includes his babysitter. Pruitt’s babysitter was tasked with providing money to a University of Tennessee player’s mom for car payments. The NCAA alleged that Jeremy and his wife, Casey Pruitt, committed Level 1 violations, the most serious in its four-tier system. Additionally accused were assistant coaches Derrick Ansley, Shelton Felton, and Brian Niedermeyer; recruiting staff members Drew Hughes, Bethany Gunn, and Chantryce Boone; and an unnamed booster from 2018-21.

Discovered in the 108-page document, which responded to the NCAA notice of allegations, the university noted that Pruitt’s babysitter gave money to a Tennessee football player’s mother for her car note. Although not included in the original NCAA notice of the allegations but in UT’s response to the NCAA, the school alleges that Pruitt paid $6,000 to a recruit’s mother for a down payment on a 2017 Nissan Armada. He allegedly said he would cover the car expenses during a recruiting visit in the fall of 2018. The university believes he paid the $6,000 on December 26 of that year.

Per investigators, the unnamed player’s mother said that Pruitt told her to “pick whatever I want and he’ll make the payment.” The action was confirmed by the investigators who talked to the car dealership. When the recruit enrolled at Tennessee to play football, from January 28, 2019, to March 26, 2021, Pruitt made 25 monthly payments of $500 for the vehicle; Pruitt made the last two payments on the car after his January 2021 termination.

According to what the unnamed player’s mom told investigators, Pruitt’s babysitter dropped off money at the former coach’s home. Additionally, the coach’s wife, Casey Pruitt, periodically delivered the payments to the residence of the player’s mother. The University also claims that the coach used a Chick-fil-A bag to give several hundred dollars to the mother of a Tennessee football player after he was approached in late 2020. After receiving a phone call from the mother of a Tennessee player in August 2020, he met the woman outside the football facility but on campus, where she asked him for money.

He reportedly gave her around $300-$400 in a Chick-fil-A bag because “it was the human thing, the right thing to do,” Pruitt told investigators in an early 2022 interview with investigators. Per Pruitt, the money in a Chick-fil-A bag was “to assist with other expenses,” and the University alleges that Pruitt previously gave $3,000 to assist with overdue medical bills.

“Despite the University’s monitoring efforts, athletics administrators and athletics compliance staff members were repeatedly deceived by the football program,” the University of Tennessee said in a statement. “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.

“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,” UT continued. “The record also supports that the University monitored football recruiting visits in accordance with industry standards. As part of the University’s monitoring efforts, athletics administration and athletics compliance staff maintained a physical presence in and around the football program (including embedding an experienced compliance staff member in the program).”

With a 16-19 record over three seasons, the saga of Jeremy Pruitt exposes the dichotomy between the recruitment tactics of coaches and the realities of student-athletes and their families.

 

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.