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.
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.
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.
Tennessee noted in its report that Pruitt violated NCAA bylaw 18.104.22.168. 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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