NCAA Can No Longer Enforce NIL Rules After Judge Grants Injunction

Feb 23, 2024, 3:39 PM | Updated: 3:47 pm

NCAA, NIL Rules, Federal Judge Injunction...

A federal judge in Tennessee granted an injunction that prevents the NCAA from enforcing its NIL rules. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Federal courtrooms continue to reshape how the NCAA operates. The latest example was on Friday in a watershed case centered around NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness).

United States Eastern District of Tennessee Judge Clifton L. Corker granted the state of Tennessee and Virginia’s request for an injunction against the NCAA in how it enforces its NIL rules.

Judge grants injunction restraining the NCAA from enforcing NIL rules

“It is hereby ORDERED that, effective immediately, Defendant NCAA; its servants, agents, and employees; and all persons in active concert or participation with the NCAA, are restrained and enjoined from enforcing the NCAA Interim NIL Policy, the NCAA Bylaws, or any other authority to the extent such authority prohibits student-athletes from negotiating compensation for NIL with any third-party entity, including but not limited to boosters or a collective of boosters, until a full and final decision on the merits in the instant action,” wrote Judge Corker.

Welcome to a world where the NCAA can no longer enforce its NIL rules.

It also opens the door for members of a university, such as coaches or athletic administrators, to negotiate NIL deals with athletes.

The University of Tennessee pushed back against the NCAA

The NCAA’s NIL rules reached the court system after media reports emerged last month that the University of Tennessee was under investigation by the NCAA for its activity in the NIL space. Most of the NCAA’s investigation centered around Tennessee’s Collective, Spyre Sports Group.

The University of Tennessee vocally pushed back against the NCAA. On February 1, Tennessee’s athletic director, Danny White, scolded the NCAA on X.

“It is clear that the NCAA staff does not understand what is happening at the campus level all over the country in the NIL space,” wrote White on X. “After reviewing thousands of Tennessee coach and personnel phone records, NCAA investigators didn’t find a single NIL violation, so they moved the goalpost to fit a predetermined outcome. They are stating the nebulous, contradictory NIL guidelines (written by the NCAA, not the membership) don’t matter and applying the old booster bylaws to collectives. If that’s the case, then 100% of the major programs in college athletics have significant violations.”

“Encouraging free and fair price competition in the NIL market”

Since then, the states of Tennessee and Virginia have pushed for legal action against the NCAA’s enforcement of NIL rules. They have come out on top.

Part of Judge Corker’s reasoning for the decision on Friday was centered on “encouraging free and fair price competition in the NIL market by enjoining the NCAA’s NIL-recruiting ban will serve the public interest.”

Two months ago, a federal judge in West Virginia filed a restraining order that prevented the NCAA from enforcing its two-time transfer rules. Since that ruling, athletes who have transferred multiple times can play without sitting out a year.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and hosts the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X: @Mitch_Harper.

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NCAA Can No Longer Enforce NIL Rules After Judge Grants Injunction