Unlikely, but not impossible: Legal analyst weighs in on possibility of buyout in Pruitt termination


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It’s been a whirlwind since the University of Tennessee decided to fire Jeremy Pruitt. The university says that Pruitt was fired “For cause,” and according to attorney Greg Isaacs, that could be a very strong indication that Pruitt will not be eligible for a buyout.

WATE 6 On Your Side obtained a copy of Pruitt’s contract and had Isaacs break it down.

“There were 31 separate requirements that if he violated, he could have been terminated for cause,” Isaacs said.

Among those requirements, Pruitt could not have a level one or two violation of governing athletic rules. That’s exactly what the university says he’s guilty of.

At the end of last year, Pruitt agreed to a contract extension and payraise to $4.2 million starting this year, but the university says he won’t be seeing that money. Chancellor Plowman said during a press conference Monday that since he was fired for cause, there would be no buyout.

“For cause is very important because in this case in theory, it could eliminate a 9 million dollar buyout,” Isaacs said.

A buyout is highly unlikely, but not impossible. Pruitt has since gathered a legal team. His attorney says in a statement:

Coach Pruitt and I look forward to defending any allegation that he has engaged in any NCAA wrongdoing, as well as examining the university’s intent to disparage and destroy Coach Pruitt’s reputation in an effort to avoid paying his contractual liquidated damages.

Michael Lyons, Attorney, Lyons & Simmons LLP

“This is gonna be complex because you’re going to have assistants that are either going to capitulate or say ‘hey we disagree with what happened.’ So that’s going to be a dynamic that the university is going to have to deal with,” Isaacs said.

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