Sadly, there’s a question that gets raised inside athletic programs quite frequently.
Is it worth it to cheat the system?
Depending on who and where you are, the answer may very well be yes. Much, of course, depends on whether you get caught.
Those in charge at Tennessee obviously came to that conclusion and they did get caught. It cost them their jobs, as head coach Jeremy Pruitt and athletic director Phil Fulmer both got the axe for their role in alleged recruiting violations that have been deemed serious.
Tennessee dumped the two most influential people in Knoxville after an internal investigation revealed “significant” Level I and Level II NCAA recruiting violations, according to Tennessee chancellor Donde Plowman.
Famed radio host and former ESPN anchor Dan Patrick offered specifics on Tuesday, as his sources claim Tennessee was handing out cash in McDonald’s bags.
Tennessee likely participated in the stereotypical corruption scandal — coaches and team staffers giving money to high school kids. It’s straight out of a message board thread. The posters couldn’t have written the story any better.
But was it worth it?
For the Vols, the answer is unequivocally no. Pruitt was an uninspiring 16-19 in his three seasons as the Volunteers’ head coach and his team never finished higher than third in the SEC East. Tennessee made just one bowl game under Pruitt’s stewardship.
How about other programs? Have their past transgressions paid off?
Hugh Freeze‘s support of Mississippi sex workers cost him a lengthy rehab tour that is currently stopped at Liberty. On the flip side, LSU won a National Championship with former alumni Odell Beckham Jr. handing out wads of cash in the locker room. North Carolina skated on years of academic fraud while the basketball program repeatedly competed for ACC and national championships.
So the answer to our question is a resounding “maybe”, with different schools in different conferences seeing things differently. In the SEC, it just means more.
Tennessee was wrong this time, however, and Rocky Top will suffer the consequences. But it’s important to remember how Tennessee got here.
The Vols fired Turnover Trash Can creator Butch Jones in 2017 after five seasons of mediocre results. An impatient fanbase and delusional administration allowed Fulmer to execute a coup, for lack of a better phrase, which led to the hiring of Pruitt.
Tennessee’s rampaging fanbase and incompetent university leadership created the climate possible for a morally bankrupt wannabe savior to assume the reins.
Let us hope Virginia Tech doesn’t fall victim to the same fate.