KNOXVILLE, Tennessee. – Tennessee, who wants to strengthen his commitment to coach Jeremy Pruitt and the direction in which he is implementing the program, added two years to his contract and rewarded him with a $ 400,000 annual increase, the school said on Thursday.
Discussions about sweetening the Pruitt deal began in January, but were delayed amid a coronavirus pandemic.
Pruitt’s new deal runs through the 2025 season and will cost him $ 4.2 million a year, although he has decided not to accept the $ 400,000 increase this year to help Tennessee meet the challenges facing all sports departments. during the pandemic.
“My family and I are grateful for the unwavering commitment the University of Tennessee has made to us,” Pruitt said in a statement. “We have worked hard to build our program in the right way in a short period of time and there is still a lot of work to be done.”
The 46-year-old Pruitt is entering his third season as a volunteer coach. He directed Tennessee to six straight wins a year ago to close the season. The volunteers finished 8-5, including a victory over Indiana in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl after starting the 1-4 season. Tennessee’s 5-3 record in the SEC last season was only the second time in 12 years that volunteers ended up winning the conference. They were also 5-3 in 2015, Butch Jones’ third season as coach.
“I’m glad that this extension gives Jeremy the track to continue to build on the momentum and energy we have around our football program coming out last season,” athletic director Philip Fulmer said in a statement. “He has made excellent progress only after his third year and is well aware that there is still a lot of work to be done. This extension ensures that he continues his efforts to return our program to the championship level and shows our commitment to him, his staff, this team and the future. to Tennessee volunteers. “
Number 16 Tennessee opens the 2020 season on Saturday night in South Carolina.
Pruitt and his staff have taken the recruitment aisle seriously and prepared Tennessee for a highly rated signing class. Volunteers are number 3 nationally in the latest ESPN recruitment ranking for class 2021 after graduating from No. 18 in 2020 and No. 11 in 2019.
Pruitt’s original contract, when he was hired in December 2017, was a six-year deal worth $ 22.8 million. His new deal includes a bonus package of over $ 4.2 million, which he plans to make.
Pruitt is Tennessee’s fifth coach since Fulmer was fired at the end of the 2008 season.