Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Former Tennessee football coach Jeremy Pruitt wants a settlement after the SEC school fired him for cause following the 2020 season, and his lawyer said he will file a lawsuit that will “cripple” the athletic program if he doesn’t get it.
Blake Toppmeyer of USA Today reported Michael Lyons, who is Pruitt’s lawyer, gave Tennessee an ultimatum of Oct. 29 to reach said settlement if it wants to avoid going to court.
The school, which fired Pruitt Jan. 18 after alleging the football program likely violated NCAA rules during his tenure, does not plan to settle and has not paid the $12.6 million buyout clause on the coach’s contract because the firing was for cause.
Ryan Stinnett, who is general counsel for Tennessee, responded to Lyons and explained the school’s position:
“Your letter contains no denials of your client’s actions. Instead, you raise vague and unsupported allegations of other violations by the University and threaten to embarrass the University publicly by revealing these alleged violations.
“The University emphatically denies these allegations and will not be intimidated into settling with your client based on your unsupported assertions.”
Lyons said a lawsuit will “embarrass UT” and lead to NCAA sanctions while alleging NCAA and recruiting violations across multiple sports.
Pruitt was the head coach of the football program from 2018 through 2020 and finished with a 16-19 record. His only winning campaign came when the Volunteers went 8-5 and won the Gator Bowl in 2019, and they were just 3-7 during the shortened 2020 season.
Tennessee hired Josh Heupel to replace Pruitt, and his 2021 team already has more wins than last year’s version at 4-3. He was also the head coach of UCF from 2018 through 2020 when Pruitt was at Tennessee and led the Knights to a 28-8 record during his tenure.
They went 12-1 in 2018 with their only loss coming in the Fiesta Bowl against LSU.
As for Pruitt, he is a senior defensive analyst for the New York Giants in the NFL.