The University of Tennessee football program will not face a bowl ban as part of its punishment for the more than 200 individual infractions committed during the tenure of former head coach Jeremy Pruitt, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions announced in a news release on Friday (July 14).
The Volunteers were, however, placed on a five-year probation, handed an $8 million fine and will see a reduction of 28 scholarships, having been credited for self-imposing 16 scholarship reductions since news of the violations were made public in 2021. The NCAA said the $8 million fine was "equivalent to the financial impact the school would have faced if it missed the postseason during the 2023 and 2024 seasons."
"The panel encountered a challenging set of circumstances related to prescribing penalties in this case," the committee said. "The panel urges the Infractions Process Committee and the membership to clearly define its philosophy regarding penalties — which extends beyond postseason bans — and memorialize that philosophy in an updated set of penalty guidelines."
Tennessee's full list of penalties includes the following per NCAA.org:
- Five years of probation.
- A reduction in football scholarships by a total of 28 during the term of probation, including at least two scholarships each year.
- Tennessee previously self-imposed and is credited with 16 scholarship reductions from the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years.
- A reduction in football official visits by a total of 36 during the term of probation, including a reduction of at least four per year. Tennessee shall prohibit official visits in connection with a total of 10 regular-season home games, four of which must be against SEC opponents.
- Tennessee previously self-imposed and is credited with a reduction of seven official visits from the 2021-22 academic year, and the school can be credited for any additional reductions in visits from the 2022-23 academic year if they were imposed in connection with regular-season home games.
- A reduction in football unofficial visits by a total of 40 weeks during the term of probation, including at least six weeks per year. Tennessee shall prohibit unofficial visits in connection with 10 regular-season home games, four of which must be against SEC opponents.
- Tennessee previously self-imposed and is credited with a six-week reduction in 2021 and two weeks during 2022, and the school can be credited for any additional reductions imposed for regular-season home games during the 2022-23 academic year.
- A total 28-week ban on recruiting communications during the term of probation, including at least three weeks per year. This will include one week each in December and January and one week from March to June.
- A total reduction in evaluation days by 120 during the term of probation.
- Tennessee self-imposed and is credited with a reduction of 12 days in fall 2021 and eight days in spring 2022, and the school can be credited for any additional reductions it imposed during the 2022-23 academic year.
- A six-year show-cause order for the former head coach. Should the head coach become employed in an athletically related position at an NCAA school during that show-cause order, he shall be subject to a suspension from 100% of the first season of his employment.
- A five-year show-cause order for the former director of recruiting.
- A 10-year show-cause order for the former assistant director of recruiting.
- A two-year show-cause order for former assistant coach 3. Should he be employed by an NCAA member school during that period, he shall be prohibited from participating in on- and off-campus recruiting activities.
- A vacation of all records in which student-athletes competed while ineligible. The university must provide a written report containing the contests impacted to the NCAA media coordination and statistics staff within 14 days of the public release of the decision.
- An indefinite disassociation of booster 2 (self-imposed by the school during the 2021 football season).
- Additional self-imposed penalties:
- During the 2023-24 academic year, Tennessee shall forgo the purchase of advertising with all football postseason broadcasts in which it is a participant.
- Each year of the probation term, an external group shall conduct a compliance review of the football program, with an emphasis on recruiting operations.
- Each year of the probation term, Tennessee shall host an annual, mandatory compliance seminar with an emphasis on recruiting for all football staff (coaches, part-time and volunteer staffs included). Staff from either the NCAA national office or the Southeastern Conference office will be in attendance.
Pruitt was fired by Tennessee in January 2021 after going 16-19 during four seasons as head coach. The Vols hired former UCF head coach Josh Heupel, who has since led the program to an 18-8 (10-6 SEC) record during his first two seasons, which included an 11-2 (6-2 SEC) finish and wins against Alabama, Florida, LSU and Clemson in 2022.