The Tennessee Volunteers football program received significant penalties last week for committing more than 200 violations during Jeremy Pruitt’s tenure as head coach.
New details revealed in a Knox News report Monday appeared to show Pruitt’s logic behind some of the things he was found to have done in violation of NCAA rules. The outlet obtained some of the details through FOIA requests.
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Pruitt told investigators that he was thinking about the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor when he helped a player’s mother with some accounts. Pruitt said the woman came to him pleading for help due to financial difficulties during the coronavirus pandemic.
«Then you add George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, okay, so you sit there as a white man and you see everything that happens and you can see these children suffering,» Pruitt told investigators, via Knox News. .
«…(It’s) unfortunate when you sit in a room and listen to grown men, and I’m also talking about our coaches, when they talk about growing up and the circumstances they’ve been in, because it’s hard for a white man to understand , TRUE?
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Pruitt said she would have done it again and didn’t think she was breaking the rules based on what the university’s student aid fund would have done in the same situation if the country wasn’t in the middle of the pandemic. The student assistance fund, used for struggling students, was reportedly low on cash.
The NCAA fined Tennessee $8 million after the organization determined that the program committed more than 200 violations over a three-year period under Pruitt, including 18 Level I violations. The NCAA report said most involved violations of recruitment and direct payments to athletes and their families. The benefits totaled about $60,000.
Tennessee avoided a postseason suspension and Pruitt received a six-year order for demonstrative cause.
The NCAA found that Pruitt or his wife were involved in impermissible payments to two prospects who later signed with Tennessee.
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Pruitt admitted paying two needy players, but denied some of the allegations and said some of the players’ mothers made things up to protect their children, according to reports. Knox News.
Associated Press contributed to this report.