The NCAA delivered its official notice of allegations to Tennessee on Friday regarding violations that allegedly occurred under former coach Jeremy Pruitt, according to a document obtained by the Knoxville News-Sentinel. There are a total of 18 violations in the letter, all of which are Level I -- the most serious in the NCAA's scale of infractions.
Tennessee players and their families allegedly received approximately $60,000 in cash and gifts provided by Pruitt, his wife, assistant coaches and others associated with the school. Pruitt is accused of failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance and monitor football staff from 2018-21, and the university is accused of failing to monitor its recruiting plans.
The violations were self-reported by Tennessee after it conducted an inquiry that led to Pruitt's dismissal in January 2021.
"Receipt of our Notice of Allegations was an expected, requisite step in this process -- a process our university initiated proactively through decisive and transparent actions," athletic director Danny White said in a statement. "This moves us one step closer to a final resolution. Until we get to that point, I am unable to discuss the case in any detail. As a university, we understand the need to take responsibility for what occurred, but we remain committed to protecting our current and future student-athletes."
The NCAA alleges that cash and gifts were funneled through players throughout Pruitt's tenure with the Volunteers, which began when he was hired to replace Butch Jones prior to the 2018 season. Of those cash and gifts, $15,000 worth of car and rent payments were allegedly paid to one player over a two-and-a-half year span, according to the notice.
Assistant coaches Derrick Ansley, Shelton Felton and Brian Niedermeyer, as well as off-the-field members of the recruiting staff Drew Hughes, Bethany Gunn and Chantryce Boone are all named in the notice of allegations. The notice compliments Tennessee for its cooperation in the process.
"In every step of this process, the university's quick and decisive actions have exemplified the longstanding values of the NCAA that are reiterated in the membership's new constitution," a university statement provided to the News-Sentinel read. "While NCAA bylaws prohibit the university from publicly commenting about the specific allegations, the university has and will continue to seek a resolution of this case that is consistent with the NCAA's new constitution and in the best interests of the University of Tennessee."
Tennessee announced in November 2021 that it will self-impose penalties as a result of the investigation, but did not take the step to self-impose a bowl ban. The specific penalties that the school self-imposed have not been released per NCAA bylaws. The school has 90 days to respond to the notice and the NCAA will have 60 days from the date of response to hand down any further penalties to Tennessee and/or the individuals mentioned in the notice of allegations.