Judge temporarily blocks NCAA from enforcing NIL rules

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the NCAA from enforcing name, image and likeness (NIL) rules for recruits after Tennessee and Virginia demanded a preliminary injunction.

The decision, handed down Friday by U.S. District Judge Clifton Corker in the Knoxville division of the Eastern District of Tennessee, said the NCAA cannot enforce its NIL rules — which ban student athletes from negotiating compensation with outside funders.

The association has argued that third parties cannot pay recruits to attend a particular school, but the judge wrote that it likely violates Congress’s antitrust law.

“Since its inception, the NCAA, the governing body of intercollegiate athletics, has limited compensation of student-athletes in an attempt to maintain amateurism across college sports,” Corker wrote in the order, adding that the organization has prohibited students from receiving pay for their athletic abilities.

His explained that without “the give and take of a free market,” students have no way of knowing their true NIL value.

The injunction orders the NCAA, “its servants, agents and employees” to be restrained from enforcing the Interim NIL Policy, the NCAA Bylaws and “any other authority to the extent such authority prohibits student-athletes from negotiation compensation for Nil with any third-party entity” until a final decision on the matter has been made.

The decision marks another loss for the NCAA. Gave Feldman, a sports law professor at Tulane, told The Associated Press that while the NCAA is expected to appeal Corker’s decision, an act from Congress might save the organization too.

“There’s no question the NCAA has never faced more attacks from different areas at one time,” Feldman told the AP. “And things are snowballing. And I think that’s why where are so many serious discussions about how college sports needs to change and what those changes will look like.”

The NCAA is defending itself against at least six antitrust lawsuits, the news wire noted.

The organization has noted that allowing NIL collectives, which are business entities backed by boosters, to create deals with recruits, it would make college-level sports and professional sports indistinguishable.

Last month, a House subcommittee held a hearing examining how to approach the growing NIL issue, as the new compensation move for student athletes has been increasingly popular but has very few guardrails.

Advocates for the students say it’s only fair that they receive compensation for their sporting abilities, while the schools they compete for and the NCAA receive millions, per the AP.

The Associated Press contributed.

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