Tennessee gives coach Jeremy Pruitt two-year extension with $400K annual raise

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee, wanting to solidify its commitment to coach Jeremy Pruitt and the direction he is taking the program, has added two years to his contract and rewarded him with a $400,000 annual raise, the school announced Thursday.

Discussions about sweetening Pruitt's deal started in January but were put on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Pruitt's new deal runs through the 2025 season and will pay him $4.2 million annually, although he has elected not to accept the $400,000 raise this year to help Tennessee weather the challenges all athletic departments are facing 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 the right way in a short amount of time, and there is still much work to be done."

Pruitt, 46, is entering his third season as the Volunteers' coach. He steered Tennessee to six straight wins a year ago to close the season. The Volunteers finished 8-5, including a win over Indiana in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, after starting the season 1-4. Tennessee's 5-3 record in the SEC last season was only the second time in the past 12 years that the Volunteers have finished with a winning record in conference play. They were also 5-3 in 2015, Butch Jones' third season as coach.

"I'm excited that this extension gives Jeremy the runway to continue to build on the momentum and energy we have around our football program coming out of last season," athletic director Phillip Fulmer said in a statement. "He has made excellent progress entering just his third year and clearly realizes there is much work still to be done. This extension secures him to continue his efforts to return our program to a championship level and shows our commitment to him, his staff, this team and the future of the Tennessee Volunteers."

No. 16 Tennessee opens the 2020 season Saturday night at South Carolina.

Pruitt and his staff have made major inroads on the recruiting trail and have Tennessee on track for a highly rated signing class. The Volunteers are No. 3 nationally in ESPN's latest recruiting rankings for the 2021 class after finishing No. 18 in 2020 and No. 11 in 2019.

Pruitt's original contract when he was hired in December 2017 was a six-year, $22.8 million deal. His new agreement includes a bonus package over the $4.2 million he is scheduled to make.

Pruitt is Tennessee's fifth coach since Fulmer was fired at the end of the 2008 season.