The Tennessee Volunteers are once again under investigation by the NCAA, this time for possible NIL violations across multiple sports.
The Volunteers were charged with 18 level one violations and fined a record $8 million just under a year ago. Now, they possibly face additional punishments centered around the recruitment of five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava.
The NCAA is investigating Tennessee for what are believed to be alleged major violations related to NIL dealings.
The case centers around quarterback Nico Iamaleava, the No. 2 QB in the Class of 2023.
— 247Sports (@247Sports) January 30, 2024
Trouble With NIL
In this new era of NIL, the NCAA is seemingly having trouble regulating teams. Tennessee now joins big programs such as Florida and Florida State in being investigated for potential NIL violations.
NEWS: The NCAA is expected to penalize Florida State for NIL-related violations.
— On3 (@On3sports) January 12, 2024
Name, Image, and Likeness guidelines are constantly being revised and improved, and programs seem to be having a tough time abiding by the rules. Now, the question is not if others will be investigated, but when and who?
With Tennessee being investigated for the second time in about a year, there is belief that its punishment will be major. The program was already on probation due to recruiting violations with former head coach Jeremy Pruitt, and now, after a strong 9-4 season, the Volunteers are yet again facing repercussions.
It is hard to know what to expect as punishment, with the NCAA’s regulation of NIL being so new. For FSU, which became one of the first to be punished for NIL-related violations, punishment was not light. The Seminoles were placed on a two-year probation and were forced to disassociate from their NIL booster for three years. Assistant Alex Atkins was also suspended from recruiting during the fall of 2023 in addition to the first three games of the season as a result. The expectation is that Tennessee’s violations were to a further extent, and those familiar to the situation expect the punishment to be decided accordingly.
This means the Volunteers will likely face a harsher punishment than Florida State.
Initial Response from Tennessee
Tennessee officials immediately denied not true. UT Chancellor Donde Plowman wrote a letter to the NCAA arguing the accusations.
Plowman: "The NCAA's allegations are factually untrue and procedurally flawed." https://t.co/LxIIwgyrIe
— Pete Nakos (@PeteNakos_) January 30, 2024
Spyre Sports Group, the marketing agency that represented highly touted recruit Nico Iamaleava, also came out to say that their actions abided by NCAA rules.
— Tom Mars (@TomMarsLaw) January 31, 2024
It is currently unclear whether Tennessee will be found guilty of what is being accused, or even what is being accused, but if the investigation does reveal violations, the aftermath for the Tennessee program could be devastating. After a promising bowl game performance by Iamaleava, the Volunteers looked primed for a strong 2024 season. Now, the university is clouded by yet another possible infraction.