Tennessee, Virginia AGs Sue NCAA Following UT Investigation

By Jason Hall

January 31, 2024

Cheez-It Citrus Bowl - Iowa v Tennessee
Photo: Getty Images North America

The attorney generals of Tennessee and Virginia filed a lawsuit against the NCAA Wednesday (January 31) following its investigation into alleged NIL violations it claimed were committed by the University of Tennessee, the Associated Press reports.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the Eastern District of Tennessee, 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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