On Friday it was learned former Alabama football defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt has received a six-year show-cause penalty from the NCAA. Although a college program could hire Pruitt during the period, the NCAA ruling included a one-year suspension should a school employ him for football-related activities,
The Tennesee program was also punished but not as severely as Pruitt. Tennessee will have no post-season ban. It will lose a total of 28 football scholarships over a five-season period. On-campus visits by Tennessee recruiting prospects were also reduced by the NCAA ruling. In addition, the University of Tennessee will pay an $8M fine.
The chief hearing officer for the NCAA panel that determined the penalties, Kay Norton spoke about Tennessee’s actions while Jeremy Pruitt was head coach.
"(Tennessee) demonstrated an unwillingness to even pretend to follow the rules."
Once major violations became known. the NCAA credited the University of Tennessee with “exemplary cooperation” throughout the remainder of the investigative process. Alabama football fans know well that Tennessee’s cooperation was to an extent motivated by its desire to fire Jeremy Pruitt without having to pay him a $12M buyout. The Vols’ decision-makers also either purposely or indirectly shielded then Tennessee athletic director, Phil Fulmer from culpability. Fulmer quietly resigned.
Alabama Football and Jeremy Pruitt
There are two key points going forward in any possible hiring of Jeremy Pruitt. It matters not that the dollar value of Pruitt’s impermissible payments was a paltry $60K. Just as it does not matter that such payments have been normal business across college football for many decades. It is ironic that the Vols now have a quarterback, believed to have been gained by a $8M NIL deal, after Pruitt’s exit from the program.
Minimal as Pruitt’s violations appear in comparison, the next school that hires him will have annual oversight by the NCAA during the six years. Any mistakes made by his next employer could lead to not just added scrutiny, but higher-than-average penalties for any violations. Nick Saban and Alabama Football do not need Jeremy Pruitt enough to warrant accepting the potential risk. In addition, Pruitt as a Crimson Tide analyst could have nothing to do with recruiting.
Though not likely, Pruitt might get a time-served credit reducing the length of his show cause. If so, it might be that in a couple of years, a return to the Alabama Crimson Tide staff is a practical decision.
What comes next for Jeremy Pruitt? A good guess is a lawsuit against the University of Tennessee.