Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt insisted on Wednesday that he was “absolutely not” seeking preferential treatment when he spoke to University of Tennessee police last month while they were detaining linebacker Jeremy Banks.
Banks was pulled over on Sept. 15 on campus by university police, who quickly discovered that his license had been suspended and that he had a warrant for failing to appear in court in July on a citation for driving with a suspended license. Banks asked to call Pruitt, and handed the phone to the arresting officer to speak with him around 3:30 a.m.
Pruitt asked the officer why he had to arrest Banks, thinking he had already paid the ticket. The officer then explained that he had to arrest him due to the outstanding warrant.
“This is the silliest s--- I’ve ever seen in my life,” Pruitt told the officer. “I got it. I understand. I worked at four places and they never had no crap like this except for here. Because the people usually say, ‘Hey, something’s not right here.’”
Pruitt then ended the call by saying, “Go ahead. Do your civic duty, man.”
Pruitt said on Wednesday, however, that wasn’t seeking preferential treatment for Banks when speaking to the officer.
“There’s no place I’ve coached that anybody has cut anybody a break,” Pruitt said, via the Knoxville News Sentinel. “The point was, the warrant was issued and it had been issued for [a few weeks] and I wasn’t aware of it, and that’s something that we’ve got to do a better job to focus on our players so you don’t have a speeding ticket or anything that turns into something like this.”
Banks was then arrested and released on bond. The traffic citation has been resolved.
During his ride to the Knox County Detention Center, Banks told a woman on a ride-along in the back seat of the car: “Ma’am, you don’t wanna be an intern because where I’m from we shoot at cops. I’m from Memphis, Tennessee.” The topic resurfaced again minutes later, and asked one of the officers what he would do without his “badge.”
Banks has since apologized for his conduct.
Pruitt thanked the officer on Wednesday for speaking with him during the incident, which he admitted was extremely confusing on his end, given the time it took place.
“When you get a phone call at 3:30 in the morning, you’re always going to take it,” Pruitt said, via the Knoxville News Sentinel. “To be honest, when I got the phone call, I had no idea who I was talking to, probably for the first two minutes. By the time I got it figured out, there was obviously some confusion, because it was late, but I appreciate the officer talking to me and doing his job.”
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