The NCAA has responded to a lawsuit filed by the state of Tennessee and Virginia on Wednesday, stemming from reports that the University of Tennessee was under investigation for NIL violations. Those reports came out on Tuesday, and Tennessee leadership wasted no time firing back.
Chancellor Donde Plowman hammered the NCAA, calling the body “morally wrong.” The Spyre Sports Group and attorney Tom Mars also released a statement regarding the recruitment and reported NIL deal of former five-star prospect Nico Iamaleava. The New York Times reported that the investigation surrounds Tennessee’s use of a private jet during Iamaleava’s recruitment.
Several hours later, the states of Tennessee and Virginia had a lawsuit filed.
“Student-athletes are entitled to rules that are clear and rules that are fair,” Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti said in a statement. “College sports wouldn’t exist without college athletes, and those students shouldn’t be left behind while everybody else involved prospers. The NCAA’s restraints on prospective students’ ability to meaningfully negotiate NIL deals violate federal antitrust law. Only Congress has the power to impose such limits.”
The NCAA responded on Wednesday afternoon.
The NCAA has released a statement on today's lawsuit filed by TN and VA challenging the NCAA's NIL rules.— Pete Nakos (@PeteNakos_) January 31, 2024
"This legal action would exacerbate what our members themselves have frequently described as a 'wild west' atmosphere."https://t.co/GGW0bmQYAd pic.twitter.com/ykn5wactOG
“While the NCAA generally does not comment on specific infractions cases, it is important to remember that NCAA member schools and conferences not only make the rules but routinely call for greater enforcement of those rules and holding violators accountable,” the statement read. “In recent years, this has been especially true as it relates to establishing and enforcing a consistent set of national rules intended to manage the name, image and likeness environment.
“This legal action would exacerbate what our members themselves have frequently described as a “wild west” atmosphere, further titling competitive imbalance among schools in neighboring states, and diminishing protections for student-athletes from potential exploitation. The NCAA remains firmly committed to protecting and expanding student-athletes’ NIL rights and opportunities. However, our membership has steadfastly supported the prohibition on impermissible recruiting contacts, booster involvement in recruiting prospects and the use of NIL offers as recruiting inducements.”
I appreciate the action of Tennessee AG Jonathan Skrmetti for standing up for the rights of student-athletes. At Tennessee, we are always going to work to support our student-athletes’ rights and give them all the tools needed to succeed on and off the field. This is what strong… https://t.co/D9serdSCXn— Danny White (@AD_DannyWhite) January 31, 2024
A situation like this was always going to happen. NIL was launched lacking regulation, and individual state laws further complicate the process. NIL collectives have quickly sped this process along, pushing the NCAA rapidly to a more professional looking model.
One thing is for sure here in this case — Tennessee isn’t backing down, and they have the support of just about anyone with an opinion on the matter.