Complaining about college athletics being crooked is as pointless as bitching about New York streets being dirty. So when yet another “bombshell” is rumored — say former University of Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt threatening to expose the athletic program in a lawsuit that “could ensnare the parties for years to come, impugn the university’s reputation further, and potentially cripple UT’s athletic programs for years” because he didn’t get his payout after being fired — my reaction is a negligible.
Remember the scandal at The U about a decade ago? Nevin Shapiro’s name was uttered with such disdain in sports outlets across the U.S. that you’d think he was a serial killer and not some former alum who doled out an estimated $2 million to Hurricane football and basketball players.
When you look at how much “student” athletes are receiving via NIL contracts now — with players like Bama QB Bryce Young garnering nearly seven figures before he even played a game — that $2 million won’t even budge the outrage meter. That’s probably why Tennessee isn’t even entering negotiations with Pruitt.
There are two major college football programs under NCAA sanctions right now, and I bet you couldn’t name them without the assistance of Google. One is in the top 15 and the other is an SEC school that just got knocked out of the top 25. They are Notre Dame and Florida. *Cuts to South Bend collectively clutching their pearls, and Gainesville residents wondering why they’re not better despite “cheating.”* Incidentally, both got popped for improperly recruiting the same player who spurned both programs for Washington. Fanbases aren’t going to turn on their universities for an off-the-books meeting, unsanctioned practices or paying players. Unless Pruitt has dirt related to throwing basketballs at players, #MeToo or point shaving, nobody outside of the sanctimonious NCAA gives a shit.
The only time recruiting violations matter, apparently, is when you can use them as cause to get rid of a coach and not pay him, which was smart because UT — for reasons unbeknownst to anyone, especially their fans — extended him before the 2020 season. (Anytime you can lock up a coach who is 2-7 versus the top 25, you have to, because we all know the Mendoza Line is 2-11 versus the top 25.)
Where is the NCAA during all of this, asked no one. Tennessee has yet to receive notice of allegations from the NCAA because of course they haven’t. At this point, the NCAA is Tom Smykowski and we’re all the Bobs, asking what is it you actually do here? The NCAA knows it’s powerless and will continue handing down toothless punishments because schools make them too much money, and jeopardizing those relationships jeopardizes their existence/revenue.
The fallout of the U scandal was a loss of nine scholarships over three seasons for the football program and a lost scholarship per season across three seasons for the basketball program. I want to speculate on UT’s “violations” because, even if they’re deplorable, college sports fans as a whole don’t care.
Do your worst, Jeremy, because I’m pretty sure Tennessee can withstand a slap on the wrist.