How the NCAA says Tennessee Vols football violated rules using McDonald's food

Erik Hall
Knoxville News Sentinel

McDonald's food was popular with the former Tennessee football coaching staff.

Twice in the NCAA notice of allegations, McDonald's is mentioned.

The first instance occurred March 30 to April 1, 2019. The second instance occurred on July 26, 2019.

The first instance involved assistant coach Brian Niedermeyer and director of recruiting Bethany Gunn. The second instance only involved Gunn. 

Tennessee's NCAA violations involving McDonald's food

A bag of food from McDonald's ordered through the Postmates service sits next to a Postmates delivery bag during a delivery in New York on Wednesday, May 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Candice Choi)

Here is what the NCAA notice of allegations said occurred March 30 to April 1, 2019: 

During an unofficial visit to the institution, Gunn and/or Niedermeyer arranged and/or provided approximately $225 in impermissible meals from McDonald's for [redacted name] and University of Tennessee, Knoxville (Tennessee)-branded clothing, including two beanie hats and two hooded sweatshirts.

Here is what the NCAA notice of allegations said occurred July 26, 2019:

Gunn and a student recruiting assistant provided to [redacted name] approximately $35 in meals from McDonald's and loaned him a Sony PlayStation video console.

The University of Tennessee received a 51-page notice of allegations from the NCAA on Friday. The NCAA lists 18 football recruiting violations under former Tennessee football head coach Jeremy Pruitt

Tennessee football, McDonald's bags backstory

McDonald's bags were synonymous with the Tennessee football violations since Dan Patrick reported on Jan. 19, 2021, that money changed hands in McDonald's bags.

"I asked my source, 'How did they get these assistant coaches on recruiting violations?'" Patrick said. "He said, 'Well, they put money into McDonald's bags and gave them to the recruits when they came on campus.' Some of the campus visits were not organized or they were not above board, but they were handing out cash. I don't know if it was through the drive-through. So you literally had bag men, and they put the cash in McDonald's bags and handed it to the recruits. My source said they were so in-your-face with this, they weren't even trying to hide it. ... Tennessee, they got sloppy, and they were handing out cash in McDonald's bags."

On Jan. 18, 2021, Pruitt was fired for cause after an internal investigation by Tennessee. 

Here's more Tennessee football news: 

Pruitt was the Tennessee football head coach for three seasons from 2018-20. The Vols went 16-19 during those three seasons.

Erik Hall is the lead digital producer for sports with the USA Today Network. You can find him on Twitter @HallErik