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Report: Tennessee firing Jeremy Pruitt, AD Phillip Fulmer to retire

Finally, an answer.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

According to Pete Thamel, Tennessee is expected to part ways with head football coach Jeremy Pruitt. The decision comes after a lengthy internal investigation into his staff’s recruiting, which has been ongoing since the end of the season.

Reports are also indicating that Pruitt will be fired FOR cause, which would obviously help with his $12 million buyout.

Pruitt ends his time at Tennessee with a 16-19 record. He went 3-7 in 2020 — a year that was billed as one where the Volunteers might just take that next step and hang with Florida and Georgia in the SEC East. The bottom fell out instead.

Pruitt manufactured a six game win streak to close the 2019 season, stopping the bleeding after opening with losses to Georgia State and BYU. He was able to beat South Carolina and Missouri to open 2020, but then lost six straight games and found himself squarely on the hot seat.

An investigation into his staff’s recruiting was always rumored to be a way to get Pruitt out of Knoxville in a cheaper fashion — today that seems to have come true.

Also breaking this morning is the sudden decision by Phillip Fulmer to retire. Per Blake Toppmeyer, Fulmer giving up his AD chair and wants his successor to pick Tennessee’s next head coach.

We will update this post with any more news that breaks.

UPDATE: Multiple reports state that new defensive assistant Kevin Steele will serve as the interim head coach for the time being. There was plenty of speculation about Steele perhaps taking over if Pruitt were to be fired, but that now doesn’t seem likely with Fulmer exiting as well.

UPDATE: A 3 p.m. ET presser has been called.