Update 3:10 p.m. From UT Chancellor Donde Plowman: “There were very deliberate efforts to conceal, falsify what was happening out of that recruiting office,” Plowman said. “We don’t have these problems in any other sport.” She added “I’m unflinching about integrity, and we’re going to run our football program with integrity.”
Update 3:02 p.m. Assistant linebacker coaches Shelton Felton and Brian Niedermeyer have also been fired for cause. That means no buyouts will be due from the university.
Update 2:57 p.m. Tennessee has fired Pruitt, and gone scorched earth while doing so. Here’s the cover page of his termination letter. When we get a full copy we will add it here. They’re saying it’s “for cause” so they won’t owe any additional compensation once Pruitt is let go tomorrow at 5 p.m.
Tennessee is firing Jeremy Pruitt for cause, effective 5 p.m. on Tuesday. pic.twitter.com/zNpLZsmky4— David Ubben (@davidubben) January 18, 2021
Update 12:55 p.m. Bruce Feldman is reporting Tennessee’s own Peyton Manning ”will have a big role in the search process and great influence on who Tennessee’s next head coach will be.
When you combine high drama, cheating, and a lack of winning, it’s usually a recipe for universities hitting the reset button. And that’s what’s going to happen to the Tennessee Volunteers on Monday according to Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, where head coach Jeremy Pruitt will be removed.
Add to that ESPN’s report that athletic director and former Tennessee head football coach Phil Fulmer will retire.
Sources: Tennessee will be parting ways with coach Jeremy Pruitt today. AD Phil Fulmer's future will also be addressed.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) January 18, 2021
Breaking: Tennessee has fired head football coach Jeremy Pruitt after an investigation into potential recruiting violations in the program, sources told @ClowESPN and @Mark_Schlabach.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 18, 2021
Additionally, athletic director Phillip Fulmer plans to retire, sources said. pic.twitter.com/EBIm4mRp8U
A program with a massive base of support and a stadium that seats over 100,000 people that regularly fills with no issue, UT was 3-7 last season despite having one of the best offensive lines in college football. Starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano is off to Washington State, and the NCAA sword is hanging over the program. And with recruiting way down and everything else a dumpster fire, it appears it’s only going to get worse.
Firing Pruitt for cause would get the Vols out of $13 million they would owe otherwise if they can show he knew about the violations or at least did nothing to promote a “culture of compliance” or one of the other buzzworthy phrases that discuss cheatin’ in college athletics. It also shows the NCAA they’re serious about cleaning up the impropriety, which might help mitigate some punishments down the road.
Fulmer executed one heckuva of a power play to make himself the man in charge of all athletics at his alma mater in December of 2017, but it’s been utter chaos and no winning ever since. Tennessee is 16-19 since, failing to build on a surprise 8-5 season in 2019 that resulted in a Gator Bowl win.
More when this becomes official, but it looks like we’re in for some drama in Knoxville.