Former Tennessee Head Coach Jeremy Pruitt Claims He Thought About George Floyd Before Handing Out Cash to His Former Players and Their Families that Violated NCAA Rules

Former Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt used every trick up his sleeve to avoid penalties from the NCAA. The Knox News recently obtained documents through an open records request of the conversations between Pruitt and investigators from November 2022.

Jeremy Pruitt alleges he thought about George Floyd when he gave money to players that violated NCAA rules. (Photo: @CFBLive247_/ Twitter screenshot)

George Floyd on His Mind

It was found that Pruitt, his wife Casey, and seven assistants on his staff handed out $13,000 to recruits and their families.

He also allowed players to play while they were ineligible and personally made cash payments to players already on Tennessee roster of $3,000 and $6,000, which violated 18 Level I violations and 200 individual violations.

On Friday, Pruitt and six of his former assistants were hit with a six-year show-cause order. The penalty means that a university cannot hire a coach or recruiter without being subjected to penalties during the length of this ban unless the NCAA signs off on it. Pruitt also would have to serve a year suspension in the first year of employment if he were to be hired by any school.

During the investigation, Pruitt said he thought about racial inequity and the high profile killings of people like George Floyd when he handed a player’s mother $300 cash in a Chick-Fil-A bag. This incident reportedly happened in August 2020 during the COVID shutdown and the mother showed up to the university’s football facilities in tears with nowhere or anyone else to turn to.

“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,” Pruitt said during the interview with NCAA investigators.

The statement continued, “… (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.”

Do It Again

Pruitt was the head coach from 2018 to 2020. He had several instances where he violated NCAA rules. The parents of the players he helped spoke out against him. He said that the NCAA threatened the parents with the loss of eligibility for their kids and that is why they turned on him. He did what he did because he saw people in need and he had the means to help.

The former Tennessee head coach said that one of the two players he admitted to helping was living in a dorm alone with no money and no food. He also said he was worried about the player’s mental health. The other player didn’t have money to get his infant child milk and diapers.

“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),” Pruitt said. “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.”

Is he a misunderstood head coach with a huge heart or a win-at-all-costs coach who used Black pain as an excuse to buy his football team and try to avoid NCAA punishment?

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