KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Tennessee football is no longer under the leadership of Jeremy Pruitt.
Now, just days after news broke of his firing, WATE 6 On Your Side’s Elizabeth Kuebel is speaking for the first time with Pruitt’s attorney in a one-on-one interview.
Michael Lyons, of Dallas-based trial firm Lyons & Simmons, said Pruitt accepts the fact he was terminated, but what he doesn’t accept is the university did it with cause. That means they will not pay Pruitt’s buyout.
“This is big boy college football. Institutions can make whatever changes they want, they can terminate people. The question is whether they can terminate them for cause and avoid their obligations under the contract,” Lyons said.
Earlier this week, UT leadership announced they were terminating Pruitt with cause, citing failure to create a culture of compliance.
“There’s been no evidence that’s been brought forward that suggests that coach Pruitt has engaged himself in any type of NCAA violations,” Lyons said.
The news came amid ongoing internal university and NCAA investigations and as national reports swirl of allegations of disguised cash payments to players.
We asked Lyons if there was any truth to the rumors.
“There has been no allegation whatsoever that coach Pruitt or any member of his staff was paying recruits to come to the University of Tennessee cash money in McDonalds bags, or anything resembling that,” Lyons said.
Lyons says he talks to Pruitt regularly and offered insight into how his client is feeling now.
“He’s obviously disappointed. He certainly has tremendous respect for Tennessee, the institution and the fan base. He loves those kids that he recruited and coached,” Lyons said.
We also asked about future plans and if Pruitt and Lyons have any plans to sue the University of Tennessee.
“I’m not going to discuss what my legal strategy is on behalf of coach Pruitt, but nothing is off the table. We’re going to represent him to the fullest extent and aggressively pursue whatever claims or legal remedies he has to enforce the contract,” Lyons said.
Lyons also wouldn’t give specifics when asked if he would be partnering with a local attorney. He did say his firm has contacts in Tennessee they’ll be working with.