Report: Tennessee in hiring freeze amid investigation into potential recruiting violations

Nick Bromberg
·2 min read

Tennessee is currently conducting an investigation into possible football recruiting violations and isn’t making any moves to fill coaching vacancies.

According to ESPN, the school hasn’t extended contracts for assistant coaches and has instituted a hiring freeze as lawyers interview people in the football program about potential NCAA violations.

From ESPN:

"We take seriously our institutional commitment to NCAA compliance, and are reviewing regulatory issues that have been brought to our attention," university spokeswoman Tyra Haag said in a statement this week. "As part of that process, we are currently working with attorneys Kyle Skillman and Michael Glazier with Bond, Schoeneck & King. We will provide additional information when it's appropriate."

Last month, ESPN reported that compliance department officials had interviewed current players, recruits, assistant coaches, student volunteers and other athletics department officials involved in football recruiting. The sources said the interviews started in November.

Fox Sports Knoxville first broke the news about an internal investigation at Tennessee in December. That report came after multiple Tennessee players were held out of the season finale vs. Texas A&M for undisclosed reasons.

Tennessee was 3-7 in 2020 and had its third losing season in the last four years. The Volunteers are 16-19 in Jeremy Pruitt’s three years as head coach.

Thursday, FSK reported that the Tennessee investigation included the use of hotels in the Knoxville area during the recruiting process.

At least two Tennessee coaches have contracts that expire at the end of the month. Those contracts would expire if Tennessee does not decide to extend contracts to assistant coaches before that time. Tennessee is also needing to fill at least two vacancies on its coaching staff.

ESPN previously reported that the investigation includes the recruitment of Georgia signee Amarious Mims. He was recruited heavily by Tennessee before he signed with the Bulldogs.

Any violations found by Tennessee and its investigators could allow the school to make a coaching change with cause and not pay a significant buyout. If Tennessee wanted to make a coaching change without cause — similar to the decision that Texas made with coach Tom Herman on Jan. 2 — the school would owe Pruitt approximately $13 million.

Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt talks with Will Albright (46) before the team's NCAA college football game against South Carolina on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt is 16-19 in three seasons at Tennessee. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

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