KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — University of Tennessee officials have made the decision to change the direction of its football program once again. The school has fired head coach Jeremy Pruitt after three rocky seasons.
Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer is also retiring, and will not be involved in the hiring of a new coach.
Fulmer, who led Tennessee to the 1998 National Championship, executed a sort of athletics leadership coup in 2017 that led to the dismissal of then A.D. John Currie in the middle of a search for a new football coach. Fulmer was then named to the position and took over the dysfunctional search, landing on Pruitt.
A former defensive coordinator at Florida State, Georgia and Alabama, Pruitt went 16-19 in three seasons, including just 3-7 this season against all SEC opponents. All seven losses came by double digits.
Tennessee is firing Pruitt with cause, based on allegations of rules violations within the football program. That would save the school more than $12 million in buyout money, which is about $4 million more than it paid Butch Jones to stop coaching just three years ago.
UT chancellor Donde Plowman, who was hired in 2019, will now lead the efforts to restructure and rebuild a once-proud athletics department that has been in disarray for over a decade.
The football program will have its fifth head coach since Fulmer was fired in November of 2008, and that coach will inherit a program with the cloud of an NCAA investigation and possible sanctions hanging over its head.