There will be no postseason ban for Tennessee Football. The NCAA revealed its punishments for UT Friday based on infractions committed by the Vols during the Jeremy Pruitt era.
UT will pay an $8 million fine. They also lose 28 scholarships, but they are credited for self-imposing a 16-scholarship reduction, so it’s really only 12. Meanwhile, recruiting visits will be reduced to 36 over five years, including 10 regular season home games, four in the SEC.
By far the biggest victim of this was Pruitt himself, who received a six-year show-cause from the NCAA. Tennessee Football, though, can more than withstand what they received.
In fact, given how light the punishment is, the Vols should be happy Pruitt committed the infractions in the first place. Make no mistake, Pruitt’s infractions were the catalysts for UT getting to where it is now.
Because of those violations, the Vols fired Pruitt. They fired him for cause, so it didn’t hurt their budget. Then they forced Phillip Fulmer to step down as athletic director.
Those moves resulted in Danny White being hired as Fulmer’s replacement and White then hiring Josh Heupel, who appears to be a generational talent as head coach. You couldn’t ask for more than that?
Add in the fact that the Vols are receiving very mild punishments for the infractions in the first place, and the athletic department is in much better shape because they occurred. What happened is a blessing in disguise.
Let’s break these down. That fine is the equivalent of missing two bowl games. UT has plenty of money to cover that. They have already surrendered the majority of their scholarship reductions, and it didn’t stop them from going 10-2 last year.
Recruiting visits could hurt only because that’s one of the biggest selling points for the Vols, but Heupel’s system and NIL money can more than make up for that. They also will still have plenty of chances to host recruits.
Simply put, Tennessee Football got off easy. The Vols were smart to fully comply with the NCAA the minute this happened, and honestly, it was backhanded good news for them when it broke in December of 2020.
Could Pruitt retaliate against UT because of this? It’s possible, but there aren’t likely to be any victims from that unless he tries to bring down Fulmer, and Fulmer is no longer with the program either.