College Football World Reacts to Tennessee Notice of Allegations

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The Tennessee football program has been accused of 18 violations from its time under former coach Jeremy Pruitt, per a notice of allegations sent to the program by the NCAA on Friday. All 18 allegations are considered Level I, the most serious designation that the NCAA has.

According to a copy of the NOA obtained by Sports Illustrated, Pruitt and his wife, along with other members of his Volunteers, are implicated in connection to around $60,000 in impermissible benefits and recruiting inducements to more than two dozen recruits and their families. Pruitt led the Vols to a 16–19 (10–16) record from 2018–20.

Pruitt and his staff are accused of providing prospects with lodging, meals, transportation, goods and furniture, with Pruitt making payments of $3,000 and $6,000 in cash to the mothers of two recruits.

Pruitt and his staff were let go in 2021, and no member of the staff is believed to be working in college football at the moment. The former Vols coach spent ’21 with the Giants coaching staff, but was fired along with Joe Judge in January.

The allegations come against an up-and-coming SEC program—and one of the most storied in the sport—that has struggled to regain its footing atop its conference for decades now. The news has understandably made waves around the college football world.

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The Tennessee allegations would have seemed extremely significant just a few years ago, as Pruitt is directly implicated in paying players. In the NIL era, however, many see them as relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.

Others are baffled at the lack of a “lack of institutional control” penalty against the school itself, with most of the focus going on Pruitt. According to the NCAA documents, the decision came “largely because of [Tennessee]‘s transparency and integrity in promptly handling the wrongdoing.” 

“The institution showed strong cooperation with NCAA investigators, conducted its own thorough internal investigation and took immediate steps in dismissing the staff members and sanctioning itself. The university docked itself 12 football scholarships last season, as well as imposing several more recruiting penalties,” sources tell SI‘s Ross Dellenger.

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