03/01 15:45 CST After loss in court, NCAA pausing investigations into
third-party NIL deals with athletes
After loss in court, NCAA pausing investigations into third-party NIL deals
By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
After another courtroom loss, the NCAA has told its enforcement staff to halt
investigations into booster-backed collectives or other third parties making
name, image and likeness compensation deals with Division I athletes.
In a letter to member schools on Friday, NCAA President Charlie Baker said the
the Division I Board of Directors directed enforcement staff "to pause and not
begin investigations involving third-party participation in NIL-related
The move comes a week after a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction in
a lawsuit brought by the attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia. The
antitrust suit challenges NCAA rules against recruiting inducements, saying
they inhibit athletes' ability to cash in on their celebrity and fame.
"There will be no penalty for conduct that occurs consistent with the
injunction while the injunction is in place," Baker wrote in the letter
obtained by The Associated Press. "I agree with this decision, while the
progress toward long-term solutions is underway and while we await discussions
with the attorneys general. In circumstances that are less than ideal, this at
least gives the membership notice of the board's direction related to
The judge's decision had prompted speculation about whether the NCAA would
appeal as it fights to maintain its decades-long amateurism model for athletes
in the face of rapid change. Baker noted that three specific policies involving
NIL compensation remain in place and will be enforced, including prohibitions
on schools directly playing athletes and any payment or compensatoin for
specific athletics performance.
Those who work for and with the booster-funded collectives that handle millions
of dollars worth of NIL deals with college athletes say lifting the rules will
bring more clarity and simply make permissible what was once against the rules.
The NCAA's only jurisdiction over collectives has been rules banning boosters
from being involved in recruiting and from offering money or something of value
to attend certain schools.
Even then a school was at risk of being punished if a collective broke those
rules. That's what happened at Tennessee, which drew scrutiny from the NCAA for
NIL deals between athletes and The Vol Club, managed by Spyre Sports Group
Faced with a wave of state laws clearing the way for college athletes to earn
money based on their celebrity, the NCAA lifted its ban on in 2021 while making
it clear that its approximately 500,000 athletes are still considered amateurs
who cannot be paid to play. NIL wasn't meant to be a stand in for paying
college athletes, but that's what it has become.
Baker and the NCAA have so far sought unsuccessfully a limited antitrust
exemption from Congress to put rules in place that it says will preserve the
amateurism model of college athletics. That model is under fire from multiple
lawsuits and efforts by athletes to be considered school employees who can seek
compensation, including collective bargaining rights.
AP College Football Writer Ralph D. Russo contributed.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and