The Vols respond to an NCAA investigation into Jeremy Pruitt

Tennessee athletics released Thursday morning its response to the NCAA’s notice of allegations regarding the Tennessee football program and the 18 violations committed by the former coach. Jeremy Pruittand his coaching and staffing staff.

Here is the introduction and overview from the volumes, which describe how Pruett “cheated” the University of Tennessee while committing the alleged abuse:

The university is committed to upholding the principles of integrity and fairness in the conduct of its 20 intercollegiate athletics programs. University leadership, beginning with the chancellor, communicates to all athletics personnel and coaches the institution’s expectations that they must comply with all NCAA obligations and prioritize the well-being of Tennessee’s nearly 600 student-athletes. Unfortunately, this case demonstrates that many former football coaches and non-coaching staff, including former head football coach Jeremy Pruitt (J. Pruitt), have ignored the university’s compliance expectations by willfully committing serious violations.

Throughout this case, the university has demonstrated its unparalleled commitment to integrity, and Chancellor has led the institution’s efforts to thoroughly investigate and address violations, hold those responsible accountable, and ensure that current student-football-athletes who had no role in what happened do not bear the consequences of violations. Every decision the university made was rooted in the immediate disclosure and reporting of the truth of what happened, as evidenced by the fact that nearly all of NOA’s primary violations are based on evidence and findings detailed in the university’s investigative report. As a result, the University is in substantial, though not complete, agreement with enforcement personnel that the information in allegations 1 through 9 is true and that violations occurred.

This wrongdoing case before a COI Section I Committee hearing (panel) comes at a time of significant shift to a collegiate model in general and the offense program specifically. Intercollegiate athletics looks significantly different today than it did when the university began this investigation more than two years ago. Accordingly, the committee’s review and consideration should take into account these changes, namely the name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights for student athletes, the NCAA transfer portal, the Alston decision, and significant enhancements to the enforcement process that are set to take effect in January 2023 following adoption of the new NCAA constitution. Implementation of the recommendations by the Transformation Committee in the first section. Of particular relevance to this case, the team should also consider revised expectations for member institutions to cooperate in investigations and the ongoing reconsideration of core sanctions. The university’s handling of this case is strictly aligned with the spirit and intent of these reforms, including ensuring active participation and engagement by chancellor, aggressive detection and investigation of violations (including through access to electronic devices), reporting of results to the NCAA, and self-enforcement. . Sanctions and corrective action, prioritizing the welfare and interests of student-athletes.

Furthermore, the changing intercollegiate athletics environment requires a new approach to enforcement and the way member institutions are held accountable for violations, particularly those violations that result from the deliberate and deceptive actions of individuals. The application of traditional penalties that negatively affect the student-athlete experience is inconsistent with the realities of this new era, and some of the more severe penalties (such as post-season bans) are unfair, counterproductive, and place a significant portion of the accountability for violations against student-athletes and coaches who have not been tolerated. responsibility for violations. As detailed in this response, the university has taken significant actions arising from the underlying violations, including terminating employment of individuals with knowledge of and/or involvement in the violations, but has not self-imposed postseason bowl bans or other restrictions on student-athlete competitive opportunities. . The University respectfully urges the Committee to reach a similar conclusion, particularly given the exceptional level of involvement and cooperation by the University in this case.

Law enforcement officials explicitly credited the university for its investigations and efforts in this matter by citing its “exemplary cooperation” as the “standard for any institutional investigations into potential abuses”. The university acknowledges and appreciates the employee’s endorsement, and also notes that on August 31, 2022, approximately six weeks after the NOA was issued, the Division I Board of Directors adopted Proposition 2022-17 as emergency legislation, with an effective date of January 1, 2023. Among other goals, it was This overhaul is intended to improve collaboration in the offense process, and includes additional mitigations that will soon be available to organizations in the offense process. Several new factors are consistent with the University’s actions in this case, and should also be considered by the committee, including:

  • An exemplary collaboration of corporate leadership and athletics that embraces and exceeds the responsibility of collaboration.
  • Collaborate exemplary to volunteer all relevant information the organization possesses or should reasonably be expected to possess in furtherance of the whistleblower operation’s mission.
  • Ensure meaningful cooperation for individuals who do not have a positive obligation to cooperate under Regulation 19.2.1.

The university’s actions related to this case began long before it discovered the violations, and law enforcement officials’ claim that the university “failed to monitor” its football program is not supported by the facts. As fully detailed in Response to Allegation 18, the University’s Athletics Compliance Team has made significant efforts to educate and monitor the football staff, including, for example, providing education rules related to the COVID death period that place restrictions on more than 30 employees. separate occasions between April and December 2020. The university’s efforts to monitor the football program were no less rigorous and included placing an experienced athletics compliance officer directly into the football offices throughout J. Pruitt’s tenure. In short, the university’s expectations for compliance with NCAA rules were clear, but J.J. Pruitt and his staff so repeatedly deceived the University that the compliance officers could not reasonably prevent or promptly detect the willful misconduct that occurred in this case.

OVERVIEW: The most serious violations in this case include instances of soccer employees making direct cash payments to student soccer athletes, student soccer prospects, athletes, and their family members, including payments from J. Pruitt and his wife Casey Pruitt (C. Pruitt). In addition, the football staff has arranged and/or offered significant impermissible incentives in connection with visits of prospective student-athlete recruits to Knoxville in the form of hotel accommodations, meals, entertainment, and other benefits. In some cases, football staff have continued to provide unallowed benefits to family members after prospects have been enrolled in college. Student-athletes also received impermissible benefits, including cash, from football staff for hosting visiting prospects.

From November 2020 through May 2021, the university conducted more than 120 interviews and collected hundreds of thousands of records, including massive amounts of data retrieved from cell phone imaging and comprehensive records from local Knoxville companies. The university’s decision to photograph cellphones early in the investigation was the key step to discovering and stopping the violations now detailed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — most, if not all, of which likely went undetected.

University investigators spent significant time and resources to review, evaluate, and cite the voluminous case record, which included more than 230,000 pages of forensically photographed cell phone data, and to produce a report of the investigation (and all relevant evidence) to NCAA enforcement personnel in a manner that expedites the staff’s supplemental investigation. In addition to collecting and producing the vast majority of factual records in this case, university investigators sought to obtain many interviews and records from third parties who were under no obligation to cooperate in the investigation.

The university’s report demonstrates that the institution engaged in a prompt, thorough, and effective investigation of the facts to determine the full range of violations (and potential violations) that occurred. Beginning with the University’s initial verbal report to the Deputy Chief of Enforcement and continuing throughout the investigation, the Foundation notified staff when new issues arose and frequently requested staff guidance and assistance.

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