NCAA silliness: Tennessee coach commits violation by congratulating high school alma mater

Yahoo Sports
Tennessee had to self-report a minor NCAA violation after Jeremy Pruitt congratulated his alma mater for winning a state title. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Tennessee had to self-report a minor NCAA violation after Jeremy Pruitt congratulated his alma mater for winning a state title. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

If you’re looking for an example of how silly NCAA rules can be, look no further than a slap on the wrist Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt recently received.

Back in March, Pruitt sent out a tweet congratulating his high school alma mater, Plainview High School in Rainsville, Alabama, for winning the state title in boys’ basketball.

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No big deal, right? Wrong.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Pruitt soon heard from UT’s compliance department letting him know that the tweet was an “impermissible endorsement of a high school team and its coach.” That was the case even though Pruitt, a football coach, congratulated the school’s basketball team. Not to mention, it’s a school where his dad worked for nearly three decades.

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But it’s still an NCAA violation. The tweet was taken down after 37 minutes and the compliance staff had to remind Pruitt — and the UT staff member who helps him with his Twitter account — of certain rules. Because the UT compliance staff quickly recognized the so-called issue, the NCAA did not reprimand the coach or his program.

From the News Sentinel:

Tennessee noted in its report that Pruitt violated NCAA bylaw 11.3.2.8. It states that "an athletics department staff member shall not promote or endorse a prospective student-athlete's team or coach, or an athletics facility that is primarily used by prospective student-athletes."

If Pruitt liked, marked as a favorite or republished something on social media to indicate approval, that would not violate NCAA bylaws. But constructing his own tweet did.

Another low-level violation

Last year, Tennessee self-reported another minor violation after athletic director Phillip Fulmer, the school’s longtime head coach, assisted a group of offensive linemen during a practice drill. In its report, Tennessee said Fulmer “provided brief encouragement/instruction to two student-athletes” and did so for “less than 30 seconds” during a September practice.

Still, it was deemed a violation of the NCAA’s rules about the number of on-field coaches and resulted in a Level III violation.

As a result, the SEC barred Fulmer from attending football practice for five days and Tennessee gave him compliance education. What a blast that course must be!

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