Early this week, it was announced that the Tennessee Volunteers athletics department was under investigation by the NCAA. It is believed that most of the investigation centers around the Vols' football program, the Vol Club Collective, NIL violations, and 2023 5-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava. Iamaleava is a player who reportedly received $8 Million in NIL money to play in Knoxville. The South Carolina football rival is no stranger to NCAA investigations, though, as they were busted on over 200 violations last summer.
Tennessee, because of its recent history making them "repeat offenders," is in danger of receiving harsher penalties than the mostly financially-based sanctions levied against the team last summer. However, there is a chance that UT could get off without any additional punishments.
According to a report from ESPN's Pete Thamel, the state of Tennessee (backed up by the state of Virginia) is suing the NCAA.
After scathing letters and public statements from Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman and others around the Tennessee side of the investigation, the attorney generals from Tennessee (Jonathan Skrmetti) and Virginia (Jason Miyares) are going after the NCAA and its inconsistent and unclear NIL guidelines, arguing that the policies violate antitrust laws. Athletic Director Danny White and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee have placed their public support behind the lawsuit.
It is unclear how this lawsuit will go, but if Tennessee and Virginia win, the NIL landscape could be changing again across college athletics. For fans who find it difficult to keep up with the times in the NIL and transfer portal world of NCAA sports, more changes could make things even harder to follow. However, positive reform to the wild, wild west that is college sports could be the end result.
For South Carolina football fans (and fans of other SEC schools), the feelings surrounding this suit are mixed. On one hand, seeing Tennessee get in trouble again wouldn't hurt their feelings at all. On the other hand, if Tennessee winning the lawsuit forces the NCAA to "fix" many of the problems surrounding NIL, then for the first time, they might quietly whisper, "Go, Vols."