After the NCAA imposed sanctions on Tennessee for recruiting violations, the program was compelled to vacate wins recorded during two seasons under Jeremy Pruitt. Consequently, Tennessee has dropped from the top 10 in all-time college football victories.
Tennessee football wins under Jeremy Pruitt have been vacated
All 11 wins achieved during the 2019 and 2020 Tennessee football seasons have been erased from the record books. Prior to the vacation of these wins, Tennessee had ascended into the top 10 all-time in college football history, boasting a record of 867-410-3, which was tied with Southern Cal for the 10th position. However, with the vacated wins, the Volunteers now descend to the 11th spot, possessing an all-time record of 856-410-53.
A university spokesperson confirmed that ineligible players participated in all of those vacated victories. Alongside the vacated wins, the statistics of those players will also be expunged from the books. Nonetheless, the statistics of eligible players and any awards bestowed upon them will be retained. Tennessee acknowledged that 16 players competed while ineligible in those games due to their involvement in the 18 highest-level violations and 200 individual infractions committed during Pruitt’s tenure from 2018 to early 2021.
Subsequently, some of those players had their eligibility reinstated, including a few as part of an immunity agreement in exchange for cooperating with the NCAA investigation. However, any wins in which those players competed, from the time they became ineligible until their reinstatement, are nullified. The NCAA report did not disclose the names of these players, and their identities were redacted from Tennessee’s investigation documents.
As part of the five-year probation imposed on Tennessee, the program will also endure 28 scholarship reductions, recruiting restrictions, and a fine exceeding $8 million. However, a postseason ban was not included in the penalties.
Jeremy Pruitt, the former head coach of Tennessee, received a six-year show-cause penalty. Additionally, seven of his former assistant coaches and staff members were issued multiyear show-cause orders. A show-cause penalty implies that a university cannot hire a coach or recruiter without incurring penalties throughout the duration of the ban, unless NCAA approval is obtained. Pruitt’s show-cause penalty encompasses a 100% suspension for his initial year of employment, should any NCAA school hire him in any athletics position.
Regarding the affected games and Pruitt’s record, the victories do not change to losses, nor do opponents receive credit for those wins. Instead, the vacated games are effectively expunged from the records. Consequently, in the record book, Tennessee’s record will be modified from 8-5 to 0-5 in 2019, and from 3-7 to 0-7 in 2020.
Pruitt’s record at the school will drop from 16-19 to 5-19.
His victories against Chattanooga, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina, Alabama-Birmingham and Vanderbilt in 2019 are erased. The win over Indiana was in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
The Vols’ wins over Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt in 2020 also are stricken from the record.
Tennessee drops out of top 10 all-time
The penalty certainly harms the school’s proud football history, bouncing the Vols from the top 10 programs with the most wins.
The changes will be reflected in the school’s media guide and on its website. By rule, it must erase any acknowledgement of those wins in all printed and online materials.
The media guide distributed at SEC Media Days next week in Nashville will not yet reflect the vacated wins. The SEC required that media guides be produced before the NCAA decision was announced on Friday.