Former Tennessee Vols head coach Jeremy Pruitt is threatening, via his lawyer Michael Lyons, to ruin UT athletics for years to come.
This comes as a result of Tennessee firing Pruitt with cause earlier this year. Pruitt was not paid any of the $12.6 million buyout he was owed.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported on Tuesday that Pruitt is preparing to file a lawsuit against Tennessee if a settlement isn’t reached.
Lyons alleges that university administrators ignored or covered up NCAA violations occurring before and during the Pruitt era, and he wrote that UT’s administration was involved in or encouraged impermissible recruiting tactics. Lyons wrote that his firm has learned of impermissible booster involvement in recruiting across multiple sports.
“If Coach Pruitt is forced to file a lawsuit,” Lyons wrote, “it is inevitable that this information will become public, embarrass UT and those associated with it, including its largest donors, and result in debilitating NCAA sanctions.
It’s very possible that Lyons and Pruitt are bluffing.
But I don’t think it’s worth the gamble.
Tennessee might be wise to settle with Pruitt and put this whole situation behind them.
Even if they win the lawsuit, the negative publicity would only serve to harm Tennessee’s reputation. And that’s a reputation that’s taken a big hit in recent years (it could potentially harm recruiting, which is the lifeblood of Tennessee athletics).
Of course, on the flip side of that, UT likely would demolish Pruitt’s reputation in a lawsuit. I’m sure he doesn’t want the details of the Vols’ recruiting scandal that got him fired to go public.
In this situation, Pruitt has less to lose than Tennessee. He likely knows he’ll never be a head coach again and he’s willing to risk his reputation to get paid.
Either way, the Vols need to separate themselves from the Jeremy Pruitt era as quickly as possible.
Featured image via Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC