Jeremy Pruitt told NCAA investigators that his $300 payment to a player’s mother in a Chick-fil-A bag was in part motivated by racial unrest in the country.

When asked whether he violated NCAA rules, Pruitt referenced George Floyd, the pandemic and mental health. Pruitt said he thought about racial inequity and the high-profile killings of Black people when he gave the cash in August 2020, Adam Sparks of Knox News reported.

Pruitt said a player’s mother showed up in the parking lot outside the UT football complex in tears because of financial hardship, and nowhere else to turn to pay bills. Pruitt admitted giving her the cash from his car, where he typically stored it.

He told investigators that he felt sorry for her because of the financial strain caused by the pandemic shutdown and that UT’s Student Assistance Fund, which is used for student-athletes with hardships, was exhausted. Pruitt added that his privilege, her race and social unrest were on his mind.

“Then you throw in George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, okay, so you sit there as a white man and you see all of this going on and you can see these kids suffering,” Pruitt said. “… (It’s) pitiful when you sit in a room and you hear grown men, and I’m talking about our coaches too, when they talk about growing up and the circumstances that they’ve been under, because it’s hard for a white man to understand, right.”

In this specific case, Pruitt said he would give the cash again.

“I would do it again because I don’t think it’s breaking the rules (based on what would’ve been available through UT’s Student Assistance Fund if not for the pandemic),” Pruitt said. “I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve got little kids, and I hope one of these days when I’m dead and gone that somebody does the right thing for them.”

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