In a controversial decision that has attracted nationwide attention, the University of Tennessee dismissed head football coach Jeremy Pruitt on Jan. 18. Pruitt’s attorney, Michael Lyons, has challenged the school’s decision to fire the coach “for cause,” which allows the university to avoid a $12.6 buyout it is contractually obligated to pay.
Although the school has cited Pruitt’s alleged involvement in NCAA recruitment violations, the investigation into those allegations has not been completed.
As reported in the New York Times article “Tennessee Fires Football Coach Amid Investigation,” Lyons described a private meeting between Pruitt and the school’s chancellor in which the chancellor said that “there was no evidence that Coach Pruitt was either actively involved in any alleged violations or knew they were occurring.” Pruitt received a termination letter just three hours after he was told no employment decisions had been made.
In the Associated Press article “Tennessee Fires Pruitt, 9 Others for ‘Serious’ NCAA Issues,” Lyons added: “The timing of the university’s actions and decision appear to be preordained and more about financial convenience and expediency than a fair and complete factual determination by the university. Moreover, it seems clear the recent leaks to the press are indicative of an interest to steer the narrative in a way that is desirable to the university to justify a decision likely made weeks ago.”
In the NPR article “University of Tennessee Fires Head Football Coach Over Alleged Recruitment Violations,” Lyons said that the firing and accusations were announced publicly "prior to any substantive opportunity to respond before the appropriate decision makers. We believe the decision to be the culmination of an orchestrated effort to renege on contractual promises made to Coach Pruitt upon his hiring in 2017 and reiterated less than five months ago."
Additional coverage includes:
247Sports: Tennessee Situation Could ‘Get Uglier for Awhile’
The Chattanoogan: The Fallout from UT’s Demolition Monday
Knoxville News Sentinel: Jeremy Pruitt’s Lawyer Says Firing was ‘Orchestrated effort’ by Tennessee
Reuters: NCAA: Tennessee Fires Coach Jeremy Pruitt
Yahoo!Sports: Tennessee’s Embarrassing Fall Capped With Inevitable Failure of Jeremy Pruitt and Phil Fulmer