Federal judge’s NIL decision throws NCAA into chaos

Federal judge’s NIL decision throws NCAA into chaos

College football

A preliminary injunction can be a boon for college athletes.

A federal judge ruled Friday that the NCAA cannot enforce its name, image and likeness rules that block student-athletes from negotiating deals with boosters.

The ruling would allow those athletes in the recruiting process or at the transfer portal to negotiate NIL deals without violating NCAA rules.

Judge Clifton Corker wrote Friday that “the NCAA’s ban likely violates federal antitrust law and harms student-athletes.”

“Although the NCAA allows student-athletes to earn from their NILs, it fails to show how the moment a student-athlete enters into such an agreement would defeat the purpose of preserving amateurism,” Corker added.

The preliminary injunction blocks the NCAA from enforcing its NIL rules. AP

The preliminary injunction, which came after Tennessee Attorneys General Jonathan Skarmetti and Virginia sued the NCAA on Jan. 31, is not final, though it could have a seismic effect on recruiting because it would allow players to make deals before even signing with the school .

Prior to Friday’s ruling, only athletes enrolled in school could enter into NICK deals, whether with a team or booster.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skarmetti and Virginia sued the NCAA on Jan. 31. AP

In a statement Friday, the NCAA said it was not against athletes getting paid, but said the decision would make things more “chaotic” in the college landscape.

The NCAA is facing at least six antitrust lawsuits, according to the Associated Press.

“Overturning rules supported exclusively by member schools will worsen an already chaotic collegiate environment by further diminishing student-athletes’ protections from exploitation,” the NCAA said.

“The NCAA fully supports student-athletes monetizing their name, image and likeness and is making changes to provide more benefits to student-athletes, but an endless mix of state laws and court opinions make it clear that a partnership with Congress is necessary to provide stability for the future of all college athletes.”

Olivia Dunn of the LSU Tigers is one of the NCAA’s most famous athletes. Getty Images
Tennessee quarterback Niko Yamaleava shows off his MVP belt to teammates after defeating Iowa in the Citrus Bowl NCAA college football game, Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, in Orlando, Florida. AP

In January, the NCAA announced it was investigating the University of Tennessee and Spyre Sports Group — a collective — over potential NIL incentive deals in recruiting, alleging the school violated rules in multiple sports, according to Knox News.

Part of the investigation centered around the recruitment of star quarterback Niko Yamaleva.

An attorney who works with Spyre told The Athletic that the preliminary injunction could have far-reaching implications for college sports.

“As this is the first domino to fall, what is happening in the other pending antitrust cases now seems almost inevitable.” And the NCAA lawyers should know that,” said attorney Tom Mars.

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skarmetti said in a statement that the state will continue to fight the case.

“We will litigate this case to the fullest extent necessary to ensure that the NCAA’s monopoly cannot continue to harm Tennessee student-athletes,” Skarmetti said.

“The NCAA is not above the law and the law is on our side.”

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