Here's the latest on Tennessee football coaching staff buyouts, contracts
Tennessee has two assistant coach openings following the October firing of defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh and December departure of offensive line coach Will Friend. And the contracts of wide receivers coach Tee Martin and inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer are set to expire at the end of January.
The investigation centers on allegations of recruiting violations and impermissible benefits to athletes, a source with knowledge of the investigation confirmed to Knox News on Dec. 20. The university has hired lawyers Mike Glazier and Kyle Skillman to help with the investigation. They specialize in investigations involving college athletics.
Meanwhile, coach Jeremy Pruitt's grip on his job is tenuous.
Here's the contract status of UT's staff:
Coach Jeremy Pruitt: Pruitt is under contract through Jan. 31, 2026, following his two-year contract extension in September that increased his salary, beginning this year, and his buyout. He's set to earn $4.28 million in 2021, including a one-time $200,000 retention bonus if he remains the coach on Feb. 15, 2021. Firing Pruitt would carry a buyout of about $12.64 million, unless he's fired for cause.
Pruitt's contract states that he can be fired for cause if he engaged in conduct likely to result in an NCAA finding of a Level I or Level II rules violation, or if someone who reports to Pruitt engaged in conduct that constitutes a Level I or II violation and the university determines Pruitt was negligent in his oversight or lacked reasonable preventative compliance measures.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney: Chaney is under contract through Jan. 31, 2022. He's set to receive a $100,000 raise on Feb. 1, which would bring his salary to $1.7 million. His buyout would be about $1.8 million.
Defensive coordinator Derrick Ansley: Ansley is under contract through Jan. 31, 2022. His salary is $1 million. His buyout would be about $1.06 million.
Quarterbacks coach Chris Weinke: Weinke is under contract through Jan. 31, 2022. His salary is $450,000. His buyout would be about $478,000.
Wide receivers coach Tee Martin: Martin's contract ends Jan. 31. His salary is $450,000, but he agreed to a pay cut beginning Nov. 1 that reduced his pay by a total of $8,750. His buyout would be about 28,000, or Tennessee could simply let the deal expire at the end of the month.
Running backs coach Jay Graham: Graham is under contract through Jan. 31, 2022. His salary is $575,000, but he agreed to an eight-month pay cut, beginning Nov. 1, that will reduce is pay by a total of $15,833. His buyout would be about $611,000.
Tight ends coach Joe Osovet: Osovet is under contract through Jan. 31, 2022. He's due a $25,000 raise on Feb. 1, which would bring his salary to $250,000. His buyout would be about $264,000.
Inside linebackers coach Brian Niedermeyer: Niedermeyer's contract ends Jan. 31. His salary is $350,000. His buyout would be about $22,000, or Tennessee could simply let the deal expire at the end of the month. Niedermeyer, the longest-tenured member of Pruitt's staff, is likely on his way out.
Outside linebackers coach Shelton Felton: Felton is under contract through Jan. 31, 2022. He's due a $25,000 raise on Feb. 1, which would bring his salary to $250,000. His buyout would be about $264,000.
Strength coach A.J. Artis: Artis is under contract through May 14, 2022. His salary is $200,000. His buyout would be about $270,000.
Total buyout: If Tennessee fires the staff without cause and does not otherwise reach a reduced buyout settlement, it would owe a total of up to about $17.44 million in severance. Tennessee's assistants would have a duty to mitigate the damages, meaning if they land a new job during the term of their Tennessee contract, that salary would defray UT's costs. Pruitt has no obligation to mitigate. This buyout is in addition to the $837,000 Tennessee owed Brumbaugh, fired by Pruitt on Oct. 18, just four games into his stint on the Vols' staff.
Blake Toppmeyer covers University of Tennessee football. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it. Current subscribers can click here to join Blake's subscriber-only text group offering updates and analysis on Vols football.