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Dan Patrick: Tennessee Recruits Got Cash in McDonald's Bags Amid NCAA Violations

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2021

Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt watches during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Florida on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Knoxville, Tenn. (Randy Sartin/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP, Pool)
Randy Sartin/Associated Press

At the University of Tennessee, a Big Mac apparently came with a big stack.

Dan Patrick said Tuesday on The Dan Patrick Show that assistant coaches with the Volunteers football team put money into McDonald's bags and handed them to recruits during visits:

"You literally had bag men. They put the cash in McDonald's bags and handed it to the recruits. My source said they were so in your face with this—they weren't even trying to hide it. And that's where my source said: 'Tennessee got sloppy. Georgia has gotten sloppy.' But there's been no word on the NCAA looking at Georgia. But Tennessee, they got sloppy, and they were handing out cash in McDonald's bags."

Dan Patrick Show @dpshow

Source: Tennessee #Vols got sloppy with recruiting. They were handing recruits cash in McDonald's bags when they visited campus. Also a name to look out for to fill the Head Coaching vacancy: Jason Witten https://t.co/HKDd02rldz

Wes Rucker of 247Sports later reported multiple people within the program are "angrily denying" Patrick's comments.

Tennessee fired coach Jeremy Pruitt on Monday after an internal investigation found repeated recruiting violations. University chancellor Donde Plowman said the scope of the investigation, while ongoing, is "astonishing":

"For now, I can tell you this: The information provided today indicates a significant number of serious NCAA rules violations. While we have no choice but to continue to ask for your patience while both the University and NCAA investigate, the personnel actions we are announcing today are an indication of the gravity of what we have discovered.

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"What's astonishing is the number of violations and their efforts to conceal the wrongdoing."

Pruitt, a former defensive coordinator at Florida State, Georgia and Alabama, went 16-19 in three seasons with the Volunteers. The university fired him for cause, meaning it will not have to pay his buyout. Pruitt was under contract through the 2025 season and is expected to challenge Tennessee's decision in court.

Kevin Steele will serve as Tennessee's acting head coach while the university conducts a search. In a letter to Pruitt, the school says it expects the investigation to find Level I and/or Level II violations of NCAA rules.

The university also fired inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer, outside linebackers coach Shelton Felton, quality control coach Larry Harold, director of player personnel Danny Stiff, assistant director of player personnel J.T. Hill, directors of football recruiting Rachel Bell and Bethany Gunn, and assistant directors of recruiting Chantryce Boone and Taylar Hooker.

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