It was a Chick-fil-A bag.
Former Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt used a Chick-fil-A briefcase to give several hundred dollars to the parent of a Tennessee football player in late 2020, according to findings in the NCAA Notice of Allegations and Tennessee’s response to the NCAA.
Knox News obtained the 108-page document Thursday, which shows the scope and nature of the 18 alleged violations committed by Pruitt and his staff. UT contested parts of six of the 18 violations, while explicitly contesting that Tennessee failed to monitor Pruitt and his staff. UT received notice of the allegations in July.
Pruitt and seven employees were fired in January 2021.
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Pruitt received a phone call from the mother of a Tennessee player in August 2020. He met the woman outside the campus football facility, where she asked him for money, the document says.
Pruitt went to his car, where he had cash, and gave her either $300 or $400 in a Chick-fil-A bag because “it was the human thing, the right thing to do,” Pruitt told investigators during a March 7, 2022 interview. His statement is in This matter is the only evidence of cash payment, according to the document.
The idea of money being offered in a bag of fast food was linked to football violations in Tennessee when Dan Patrick reported on January 19, 2021, that money was exchanged in McDonald’s bags. The notice of the allegations made no mention of the McDonald’s bags.
$300 was among $12,707 in impermissible benefits allegedly provided to the former Tennessee player and his family while he was being recruited and while he was enrolled at Tennessee, according to the breakdown of the second of 18 violations listed by UT. The money in Chick-fil-A’s bag was to “help with other expenses.”
The findings also claim that Pruitt also gave the player’s mother $3,000 on January 9, 2019, to help “pay an overdue medical bill so she could be scheduled for hip surgery.” The woman shared the details during an April 15, 2021, interview after she was granted limited immunity at the request of NCAA application staff. She stated that she and Pruitt engaged during a visit to Knoxville about the need for a second hip surgery, but could not schedule it due to debts from a previous hip surgery.
“Pruitt asked her to stop by his office before leaving Knoxville, where he gave her an envelope containing $3,000 in cash,” the document says. Pruitt denied making $3,000 in his March 7, 2022 interview. The woman provided her bank records showing a $5,100 deposit on January 11, 2019.
The university discovered the violations against the player and his mother in December 2020.
Mike Wilson covers University of Tennessee athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @knoxnews.comby Mike Wilson. If you enjoy Mike’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will give you access to all of it.