Tuesday October 3, 2023

Tennessee Football Conducted Recruiting ‘Scheme’ Including Cash Payments

  • The Vols team conducted a recruiting visit “scheme” against NCAA rules, the governing body said.
  • That included cash payments to recruits amounting to more than $60,000.
Tennessee Football receives punishment.
Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel
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On Friday, the NCAA announced the findings of its two-year investigation into the Tennessee football program for recruiting violations.

The Vols  “operated a scheme” to entice recruits to come to the program between 2018-2020 that amounted to more than 200 individual NCAA infractions, according to a new report Friday. 

Most of Tennessee’s infractions were related to cash payments to recruits, other “impermissible” benefits, and recruiting visits against NCAA policy. The report noted that head coach Jeremy Pruitt and his wife paid “substantial amounts of cash” to some of the recruits, amounting to more than $60,000. 

The NCAA decided against a postseason ban for the Vols but imposed major financial penalties. The university fired Pruitt after an investigation in 2021 into the recruiting scheme, and his most recent gig was with the New York Giants. If the former head coach decides to return to college football, he must first serve out a six-year show-cause order.

The recruiting visit scheme included three boosters, 29 prospects, ten current athletes, and more than 12 staff members.

“During these visits, members of the football coaching and recruiting staffs arranged and paid for hotel lodging, meals, entertainment, and other inducements for the prospects and those who traveled to Knoxville with them,” the NCAA wrote in its infractions report. “The staff also involved enrolled football student-athletes in the scheme, asking them to act as hosts for the visiting prospects and providing them with cash to offset their hosting expenses.”

As a result, the athletic department must pay the governing body $8 million, “equivalent to the financial impact the school would have faced if it missed the postseason during the 2023 and 2024 seasons,” as well as a $5,000 fine and a 3% reduction in the football budget. 

The program must also relinquish “advertising with all football postseason broadcasts in which it is a participant.”

Other infractions include reductions of scholarships, limitations on recruiting visits, and more strict oversight. The team has already begun to self-impose some of these penalties.

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