Tennessee avoided a bowl ban after the NCAA Committee on Infractions found the program responsible for more than 200 individual violations, including 18 Level I in nature. Former coach Jeremy Pruitt was hit with a six-year show cause order, while the university will face probation, vacated wins and scholarship reductions, among numerous other penalties.
In lieu of a bowl ban, the football program will be put on probation for five years, pay an $8 million fine and will be subject to an independent compliance review of the program each year. Additionally, there will be a legislated fine of $5,000, 3% of the football budget and an additional fine to recoup money earned while the program was ineligible during the 2020 Gator Bowl. The program must also vacate 11 wins from the 2019-20 seasons, ESPN reports.
The fines given out were notably larger than those historically given out by the NCAA. However, the NCAA addressed the heightened fines as an offsetting move to avoid giving out bowl bans that will affect players and staff on campus who had no involvement with the violations.
“The panel encountered a challenging set of circumstances related to prescribing penalties in this case,” the NCAA panel said of its decision. “The panel urges the Infractions Process Committee and the membership to clearly define its philosophy regarding penalties — which extends beyond postseason bans — and memorialize that philosophy in an updated set of penalty guidelines.”
In the wake of the ruling and the Vols avoiding any sort of postseason penalty, Tennessee coach Josh Heupel was understandably excited about the program being steered cleared of a bowl ban.
“You don’t know until today what it’s actually going to be,” Heupel told ESPN. “It’s hugely…