Ex-Tennessee football coach paid parent with cash in Chick-fil-A bag

It was a Chick-fil-A bag.

Ex-Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt used a Chick-fil-A bag to give several hundred dollars to the parent of a Tennessee football player in late 2020, according to findings in the NCAA notice of allegations and Tennessee’s response to the NCAA.

Pruitt and seven staff members were fired in January 2021.

Pruitt received a phone call from the mother of a Tennessee player in August 2020. He met the woman outside the football facility on campus, where she asked him for money, the document states.

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Pruitt went to his car, where he had cash, and gave her the either $300 or $400 in a Chick-fil-A bag because ‘it was the human thing, the right thing to do,’ Pruitt told investigators during a March 7, 2022 interview. His statement in that regard is the lone proof for the cash payment, according to the document.

The notion of money being given in a fast-food bag was linked to the Tennessee football violations when Dan Patrick reported on Jan. 19, 2021, that money changed hands in McDonald’s bags. The notice of allegations did not reference McDonald’s bags.

The $300 was among an alleged $12,707 in impermissible benefits allegedly provided to a former Tennessee player and his family during his recruitment and while he was enrolled at Tennessee, according to the details of the second of school’s 18 listed violations. The money in a Chick-fil-A bag was ‘to assist with other expenses.’

The findings also claim that Pruitt also gave the player’s mother $3,000 on Jan. 9, 2019, to assist ‘with paying a delinquent medical bill so she could schedule a hip surgery.’ The woman shared the details during an April 15, 2021, interview after she was granted limited immunity at the request of the NCAA enforcement staff. She stated she shared with Pruitt during a visit to Knoxville about the need for a second hip surgery, but she could not schedule it due to debt for her prior hip surgery.

The document says ‘Pruitt asked her to stop by his office before leaving Knoxville, where he gave her an envelope containing $3,000 cash.’ Pruitt denied providing the $3,000 in his March 7, 2022, interview. The woman provided her bank records showing a $5,100 deposit on Jan. 11, 2019.

The university discovered the violations involving the player and his mother in December 2020.

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