Jeremy Pruitt’s Twitter thumbs gave the University of Tennessee a headache because NCAA bylaws can be a real pain in the neck.
UT self-reported a congratulatory tweet Pruitt sent last March to his high school alma mater after it won an Alabama state championship in boys basketball. Tennessee alerted Pruitt that the tweet was problematic and it was deleted 37 minutes after it was sent, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported Wednesday.
The News Sentinel’s rundown of why the tweet constituted a violation showed that the NCAA is preoccupied with finding evil intent in coaches’ actions.
Tennessee noted in its report that Pruitt violated NCAA bylaw 188.8.131.52. It states that “an athletics department staff member shall not promote or endorse a prospective student-athlete’s team or coach, or an athletics facility that is primarily used by prospective student-athletes.” If Pruitt liked, marked as a favorite or republished something on social media to indicate approval, that would not violate NCAA bylaws. But constructing his own tweet did.
Shorter: Likes, faves and RTs are OK but original content isn’t. You have to squint to see the logic in that.
Is it practical to think Pruitt’s hand-typed message would have convinced a prospect to commit to UT over another program, assuming UT was recruiting anyone from that high school? (It isn’t, the News Sentinel reported.) “Wow, coach shouted us out; think I’ll go play for him” is not something one should expect even a teen athlete to say. Kids make decisions for odd reasons, but thinking a tweet would have mattered feels like a big stretch.
Tennessee reported the football program for two additional violation, the News Sentinel reported: for improperly transporting family members who were accompanying a recruit on an official visit; and for unauthorized staff members conducting offseason conditioning workouts.
Pruitt and UT avoided sanctions because the NCAA deemed the violations minor, but the point remains that the association is needlessly scrupulous at times about minutiae regarding coach-athlete relations.
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