Ruling Made In Tennessee, Virginia NIL Lawsuit Against NCAA

Cheez-It Citrus Bowl - Iowa v Tennessee

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A preliminary injunction has been granted in the lawsuit filed against the NCAA by the attorney generals of Tennessee and Virginia following its investigation into alleged NIL violations it claimed were committed by the University of Tennessee, ESPN's Pete Thamel reported on Friday (February 23).

The NCAA will be prohibited from enforcing NIL rules under injunction the order signed by U.S. District Judge Clifton L. Corker.

"Here, the situation requires no more and no less than permitting student-athletes to negotiate NIL deals with third parties prior to committing to a particular school," the order states.. "The NCAA fails to show how such relief will cause any harm that outweighs the irreparable harm that student-athletes will face in the absence of an injunction."

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Eastern District of Tennessee in January, accuses the NCAA of “enforcing rules that unfairly restrict how athletes can commercially use their name, image and likeness at a critical juncture in the recruiting calendar.”

“These anticompetitive restrictions violate the Sherman Act, harm the States and the welfare of their athletes, and should be declared unlawful and enjoined," the lawsuit states.

The NCAA launched an investigation into the University of Tennessee and its booster-funded name, image and likeness collective, the Vol Club, run by Spyre Sports Group, in relation to the football program's recruitment of starting quarterback and former five-star prospect Nico Iamaleava. UT Chancellor Donde Plowman shared a letter firing back at NCAA President Charlie Baker following reports of the investigation.

"Instead, 2 1/2 years of vague and contradictory NCAA memos, emails and 'guidance' about name, image and likeness (NIL) has created extraordinary chaos that student-athletes and institutions are struggling to navigate," Plowman wrote. "In short, the NCAA is failing."

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee issued a statement in support of Chancellor Plowman following the reported NCAA investigation.

"The University of Tennessee has been nothing but forthcoming with the NCAA, and I thank Chancellor Donde Plowman for taking a stand on behalf of all universities and student athletes," Lee said. "It's time for the NCAA to establish clear rules in the interest of student athletes, rather than try to retroactively enforce ever-changing name, image and likeness guidelines."

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