Tennessee probe done, won’t self-impose postseason bowl ban

Caitie McMekin
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Tennessee will not self-impose a postseason bowl ban after wrapping up its investigation into the recruiting issues that led to the firing of coach Jeremy Pruitt and nine others in January.

“We will hold ourselves accountable considering the nature of the violations, our prompt investigation and corrective personnel actions, the new recruiting environment and other factors,” the university said in a statement. “In the interest of protecting the rights of innocent student-athletes, the university will not impose a postseason bowl ban.”

Tennessee started the internal investigation after receiving a tip on Nov. 13, 2020, about alleged recruiting violations. The university cited NCAA bylaws for preventing it from sharing details of what it found.

Chancellor Donde Plowman called the issues “serious violations of NCAA rules” that “warrant immediate action” on Jan. 18 at a news conference announcing the firing of Pruitt, two assistant coaches and seven members of the recruiting and support staff.

The chancellor said then that the potential NCAA issues involved Level I and II violations with a number of people and incidents. NCAA investigators opened a case in December.

Pruitt, who went 3-7, hired an attorney after Tennessee refused to pay his $12.6 million buyout. He went 16-19 in his three seasons.

Tennessee said in the statement that university officials are focused on rebuilding the football program and supporting its athletes.

“We will now work to finalize a fair and efficient resolution through the applicable process while navigating a rapidly changing landscape in intercollegiate athletics that includes transformative change for the NCAA, the Alston decision and significant new name, image and likeness rights for our student-athletes,” the statement said.

First-year coach Josh Heupel already has improved on Pruitt’s last season with a 4-4 record with four games remaining. With South Alabama and Vanderbilt the final games at home, Tennessee could become bowl eligible with six wins. The Vols visit No. 18 Kentucky on Saturday night in their final road game this season.

Clemson gives raises, contract extensions to staff

Ken Ruinard/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson’s board of trustees approved raises for special teams coordinator and cornerbacks coach Mike Reed and defensive tackles coach Nick Eason.

Reed and Eason also received one-year extensions keeping them tied to the Tigers through Jan. 31, 2026.

Reed, who’s been with the Tigers since 2013, had his yearly salary increased $50,000 to $800,000. Eason, the former Clemson standout defensive lineman, joined the staff this past season. He also had his compensation upped by $50,000 to $800,000.

Seven other assistants were given one-year extensions by the trustees’ compensation committee, but without a raise in salary.

Co-defensive coordinators Wes Goodwin and Mickey Conn had their contracts extended through Jan. 31, 2026.

Defensive ends coach Lemanski Hall, tight ends coach Kyle Richardson, offensive line coach Thomas Austin, running backs coach C.J. Spiller and wide receivers coach Tyler Grisham all got one-year extensions through Jan. 31, 2025.

New offensive coordinator Garrett Riley last month received a three-year contract at $1.75 million per season.

Clemson will pay its 10 on-field assistants $7.475 million this season, an increase of $925,000 from the total for 2022.

The Tigers went 11-3 last season, winning the Atlantic Coast Conference title for the seventh time in the past eight seasons.

South Carolina’s Beamer suspends three freshmen from program

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Corey Perrine/USA TODAY NETWORK
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said freshmen Monteque Rhames II, Anthony Rose and Cameron Upshaw were suspended from the football program.

There was no reason given for the suspensions in the school’s statement Friday. Online records showed Rhames, 18, was booked last night and was being held at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on charges of carrying weapons on school property and obstructing justice.

“Our student-athletes know what is expected of them,” Beamer said. “They know that both the university and the football program will hold them accountable for their actions and decisions.”

None of the three have played for the Gamecocks.

Rose is a 6-foot-1, 190-pound defensive back from Miami who enrolled in January 2022 and redshirted this season. Rhames and Upshaw were part of South Carolina’s latest recruiting class and enrolled last month.

Rhames is a 6-5, 235-pound defensive lineman from Sumter and Upshaw is a 6-2, 193-pound safety from Perry, Florida.