Monday’s press conference at the University of Tennessee was hosted by chancellor Donde Plowman, athletic director Philip Fulmer, and university president Randy Boyd.
Powman stressed integrity and leadership will be restored in a football program in disarray after nine people were fired on Monday.
The central point of the press conference was that Jeremy Pruitt was fired because he is the head coach and the number of violations and people involved on this staff was the head coach’s responsibility. Staff members also sought to conceal the violations from the university’s internal investigative team.
Last week, Plowman and Fulmer agreed an executive search firm should be hired to help secure an athletic director first and then a head football coach. Parker Executive Search is the firm the university hired.
Fulmer said, “I am 70 years old and I will not be here in 10 years. We need a coach who will coach here for the next 10 years. I think it is important for the athletic director and football coach to form a long-term partnership.”
Plowman made it clear that Fulmer is not involved nor had previous knowledge of the violations. The violations and staff involved were so extensive the chancellor stated Pruitt was fired with cause, which means he will not be paid his buyout in his contract.
The chancellor sent nine termination letters Monday, including letters to the head football coach, director and assistant director of football operations, and a quality control analyst.
Fulmer said, “We have to work really hard to not allow this to set us back.”
Kevin Steele has been named acting head coach, whom Fulmer said was not told when he was hired last week he would become acting head coach. Steele, however, was told there was an ongoing investigation into the football program. Steele played football at UT from 1978-1979.