KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN/WATE) – During a Monday afternoon press conference, University of Tennessee leaders formally announced and addressed the circumstances behind the firing of Vols football head coach Jeremy Pruitt and several other football staff following an investigation that began in November.
“What is so disturbing, as demonstrated by the scope of these actions, is the number of violations and people involved and their efforts to conceal their activities from our compliance staff and from the Athletic department’s leaders,” UT Chancellor, Donde Plowman noted. “Despite a strong compliance culture in our athletic department, we must look for ways to further strengthen our processes. We deeply regret the impact this may have on our many student-athletes, particularly the vast majority of our football players who have had no involvement in this matter at all.”
Pruitt finished with a 16-19 record in his three seasons at the helm.
In addition to the change at head football coach, Director of Athletics Phillip Fulmer is expected to retire.
“I want to express my gratitude to the many Vols fans who have been so supportive over the years. I know we’ve had some recent disappointments, but I am confident that the future of Tennessee football is bright,” said Fulmer.
Tennessee now looks to hire its fifth head coach since Fulmer was fired following the 2008 season.
“Our next football coach needs to be on the sidelines for 10 years or more, and he will need to know who his athletic director will be for the duration. It only makes sense that I make this move now, so a new coach and a new athletic director can implement their vision together. My only desire is to do whatever it takes to give Tennessee the best opportunity to succeed,” said Plowman.
Since the Vols 1-7 finish to the 2020 campaign, multiple key players have entered the transfer portal including former starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, running back Ty Chandler and offensive tackle Wanya Morris.
Overall, there were 10 staff members who were fired. The firings stem from an internal investigation that began in November 2020. Information from “a very credible source” led to the launch of the university’s investigation and later the NCAA’s investigation in December. The university also hired a third-party law firm that specializes in NCAA rules.