Tennessee, Virginia AGs file antitrust suit against NCAA over NIL recruiting ban

The attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia filed suit against the NCAA on Wednesday, alleging that the organization's rules controlling name, image and likeness rights (NIL) for college athletes violate federal antitrust law by preventing those college athletes from earning full compensation for their own name, image and likeness.

Tennessee AG Jonathan Skrmetti told Knox News, "We sued to protect the rights of current and future Tennessee student-athletes from Memphis to Mountain City, from Union City to Unicoi County, from Covington to Cleveland, and everywhere in between.”

The suit is 20 pages long and states "Tennessee's law prevents athletic associations, including the NCAA, from interfering with a college athlete's ability to earn NIL compensation that otherwise complies with the Tennessee law."

The AGs are seeking an injunction that would temporarily suspend the NCAA's NIL rules.

The suit was filed just one day after it was reported that the NCAA is investigating the University of Tennessee for potential NIL-related recruiting violations. Per the NCAA's rules, schools are not allowed to use NIL money to recruit prospective students, and the Division I Council is currently considering a new rule that would bar an NIL collective from negotiating, communicating or providing benefits to recruits or transfers until after they have signed a letter of intent, enrolled at the school or practiced with the team.

“Vague and contradictory NCAA memos, emails and ‘guidance’ about name, image and likeness has created extraordinary chaos that student-athletes and institutions are struggling to navigate,” UT chancellor Donde Plowman said Monday in an email to the NCAA denying that the school broke any rules. “In short, the NCAA is failing.”

The NCAA's legal department is pretty busy these days. They're fighting wars on multiple fronts, and every suit challenges the extreme control the NCAA exercises on its athletes and member schools.

This Tennessee and Virginia suit is the latest, but don't expect it to be the last.