Inside the NCAA's NIL Allegations Against the University of Tennessee

New Hampshire v George Washington
New Hampshire v George Washington / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

Last week, news broke in an article by ESPN’s Pete Thamel that the NCAA was rumored to be investigating the University of Tennessee’s athletic programs for NIL (name image likeness) violations.

This news comes right after Tennessee was charged with 18 level one violations in July 2023 and fined $8 million.

Spyre Sports Group is the NIL collective at the University of Tennessee that is said to be at the center of this investigation.

Also rumored as one of the primary parts of the investigation is Tennessee quarterback, Nico Iamaleava who was said to have been provided a private jet from California to travel to Knoxville during the time of his recruitment.

The University of Tennessee is not denying this, but are pushing back against the allegations because the NCAA did not come out with regulations surrounding such infractions until after they occurred.

In the case of Iamaleava, his plane ride happened prior to May 2022 when the NCAA decided to amend its policy with plans to retroactively investigate recruiting violations prior to that time. These said violations as that time however were not seen as such as the rules of the NCAA were different. And that is what Tennessee is pushing back against.

In addition to the infractions the NCAA is attempting to charge Tennessee with after the fact, new Tennessee state legislation counters this as well which allows colleges to facilitate payments between players and the NIL.

In response, attorney generals from Tennessee and Virginia quickly responded by filing a lawsuit against the NCAA. The lawsuit seeks a restraining order that would bar the NCAA from enforcing its NIL.

Tennessee Attorney General, Jonathan Skrmetti stated, “Student-athletes are entitled to rules that are clear and rules that are fair.”

While the lawsuit details several other areas, many believe that Tennessee has grounds and should easily win if this goes to court.

Time will tell, but there is a possibility the NCAA may be in for more than they bargained for.