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Jeremy Pruitt responds after termination

Hours after it was announced that the University of Tennessee had fired head football coach Jeremy Pruitt, he released a statement through lawyers.
Published: Jan. 18, 2021 at 8:07 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Hours after it was announced that the University of Tennessee had fired head football coach Jeremy Pruitt, he released a statement through lawyers.

Attorney Michael Lyons released a statement on Pruitt’s behalf that said, in part, “This afternoon, Coach Pruitt learned that Tennessee was terminating his employment for cause. He is extremely disappointed with the decision, the public announcement of which was made 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.”

Pruitt was fired for cause amid an investigation into recruiting practices.

According to Lyons’ statement, Pruitt was blindsided by the termination.

“While the limited portions of the University’s self-initiated investigation shared with Coach Pruitt provide some evidence of violations committed by off-field staff, Chancellor Donde Plowman personally confirmed during an in-person meeting with Coach Pruitt this morning that: (1) the University’s investigation had yet to have been completed; (2) the Chancellor had not yet read Coach Pruitt’s NCAA interview transcript; and (3) there was no evidence that Coach Pruitt was either actively involved in any alleged violations or knew they were occurring. She further confirmed to Coach Pruitt that no employment decision had been made. Less than three hours later, however, Coach Pruitt was e-mailed a five-page, single-spaced letter of termination—the contents of which were immediately leaked to the public.”

Plowman called the violations in the program shocking during a press conference Monday afternoon.

Lyons said the decision, which also included the firing of nine other staffers, appeared “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.”

“Coach Pruitt and I look forward to defending any allegation that he has engaged in any NCAA wrongdoing, as well as examining the University’s intent to disparage and destroy Coach Pruitt’s reputation in an effort to avoid paying his contractual liquidated damages,” the statement continued.

Lyons added that, “Despite the apparent outcome-oriented nature of the investigation and the absence of any reliable evidence suggesting any preventable failure by Coach Pruitt in the oversight of his program, Coach Pruitt and his family are thankful for and will always cherish their time with the University. In addition to having made lifelong friends in Knoxville, Coach Pruitt is most thankful for and appreciative of the outstanding young men he was able to coach and mentor. He wishes those student-athletes and the remarkable fans that support them nothing but success.”

Multiple student-athletes appeared shocked by the decision. Former UT linebacker Daniel Bituli did not seem happy about UT’s decision to part ways with Pruitt in a post on Twitter as the news broke.

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