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Tennessee wraps up football investigation; Will not impose bowl ban

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Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel via Imagn Content Services, LLC

It took nearly an entire year, but Tennessee has reportedly wrapped up its investigation into the potential NCAA violations committed by Jeremy Pruitt. According to VolQuest, the University’s findings were not enough for Tennessee to self-impose a bowl ban for this season.

Brent Hubbs and Austin Price broke the story below.

Tennessee confirmed the news shortly after and released the following statement.

“The university has completed its investigation of rules violations within the football program. We are moving forward with our focus on rebuilding our football program and supporting student-athletes. We will now work to finalize a fair and efficient resolution through the applicable process while navigating a rapidly changing landscape in intercollegiate athletics that includes transformative change for the NCAA, the Alston decision and significant new name, image and likeness rights for our student-athletes.

“We will hold ourselves accountable considering the nature of the violations, our prompt investigation and corrective personnel actions, the new recruiting environment and other factors. In the interest of protecting the rights of innocent student-athletes, the university will not impose a postseason bowl ban. NCAA bylaws prevent us from sharing details of the investigation at this time, but we do commit to providing that information when we are able. We appreciate the patience and support of our fans during this process.”

Pruitt was fired for cause after the University discovered “serious violations of NCAA rules.” Those violations came on the recruiting front, allegations that Chancellor Donde Plowman called ‘stunning’ and ‘shocking.’ Pruitt finished the 2020 season with a 3-7 mark.

Tennessee moved on to hire Josh Heupel, but the investigation lingered. It was something that surely was used against the Volunteers on the recruiting trail, with so much uncertainty ahead. Now today, at least on the University’s side, it appears to be wrapped up.

Here’s the key reasoning as to why Tennessee feels comfortable enough to move forward without self-imposing a bowl ban penalty — most of the players involved transferred to other schools.

Tennessee feels strongly that the players involved in the alleged violations have transferred elsewhere and many will be in post-season play themselves. For the current players and recruits, putting to bed speculation on a possible bowl ban is a step forward from the cloud surrounding the program for the last year. — VolQuest

The Vols will have to win two of their final four games to become bowl eligible this season.

Tennessee will self-impose other penalties, but could not comment on what those would be — it’s likely a restriction on traveling for recruiting, visits, or maybe even a scholarship reduction.

So there you have it — Tennessee feels like all guilty parties are out of the program. They’re slapping themselves on the wrist and fully planning on playing in a bowl game with players and coaches who are innocent. Will that be enough for the NCAA? Who knows.