This season has been a tough one for Jeremy Pruitt and staff on Rocky Top and yesterday's news has not made the year any easier. First reported by Fox Sports Knoxville’s Trey Wallace, Pruitt and Tennessee allegedly find themselves at the center of a NCAA investigation regarding recruiting irregularities.
“The University of Tennessee football program,” Wallace said, “is currently being investigated by its own compliance department and the NCAA into alleged recruiting violations and alleged impermissible benefits to current student-athletes. According to sources, the university’s general counsel has been interviewing subjects that are the focus of the investigation over the past several weeks. Multiple sources suggest the investigation dates back to at least early December.”
While no specific players were named, it is believed that the investigation concerns players that were recruited by Tennessee before going elsewhere, as well as players currently on the Vols’ roster.
According to Wallace, the university’s compliance department has interviewed a variety of people with the program in both the coaching staff and recruiting department, the most notable of these being inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer, who was the 2019 recruiter of the year.
Since arriving at Tennessee, Niedermeyer has been instrumental in the recruitment of many key players on the roster, Henry To'o To'o, Quavaris Crouch and Darnell Wright being some of the more prominent examples.
When reached for comment, the University of Tennessee declined to offer any specifics of the situation but did offer the following statement.
“In keeping with our institutional commitment to compliance, we often look closely at regulatory issues that are brought to our attention via internal or external channels," UT said. "Maintaining compliance is a shared responsibility, and active monitoring is part of that process.”
After Saturday's game against Texas A&M, head coach Pruitt addressed the allegations.
“I hadn’t seen no article or anything like that," Pruitt said. "Any time in college football or college athletics, you have typical compliance stuff. That is all I know.”
This story is evolving, and any updated information will be noted.