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Tennessee fires Jeremy Pruitt and 9 others for "serious" NCAA issues

Rainsville native Jeremy Pruitt along with 9 others have been fired from their positions at the University of Tennessee Football program

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee has fired Rainsville native Jeremy Pruitt, two assistants and seven members of the Volunteers' recruiting and support staff for cause after an internal investigation found what the university chancellor called “serious violations of NCAA rules.”

Chancellor Donde Plowman said Pruitt was responsible for overseeing the program. Tennessee has been conducting an internal investigation since at least the middle of November into allegations of recruiting violations.

“The personnel actions we are announcing today is an indication of the gravity of what we’ve discovered," Plowman said.

Also fired Monday were assistant football coaches Brian Niedermeyer and Shelton Felton, four members of the on-campus football recruiting staff, the director and assistant director of football player personnel and a football analyst/quality control coach.

This means Tennessee will not be paying Pruitt a $12.6 million buyout after he went 16-19 in three seasons.

Credit: AP
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt watches during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Florida on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Knoxville, Tenn. (Randy Sartin/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP, Pool)

Pruitt went 3-7 in an SEC-only season with each loss by double digits. Tennessee had been picked to play in the Liberty Bowl but withdrew a day later after a batch of positive COVID-19 results, including Pruitt.

Athletic director Phillip Fulmer will be retiring, and Tennessee is retaining a search firm to help hire a new athletic director. Plowman said that athletic director then will hire the new coach.

Kevin Steele, hired last week as a defensive assistant coach, will act as the acting coach.