AG Skrmetti argues NCAA’s NIL-recruiting ban violates federal antitrust law, thwarts the free market and harms student-athletes

Nashville – Tennessee, along with Virginia, is suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for “violating federal antitrust laws with its anti-competitive restrictions on the ability of current and future student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL),” according to a release by the state of Tennessee.

Tennessee claims, “anti-competitive restrictions violate the Sherman Act, harm current and future student-athletes as well as the State and should be enjoined.” Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti says student-athletes deserve fair rules.

“Student-athletes are entitled to rules that are clear and rules that are fair,” said Skrmetti. “College sports wouldn’t exist without college athletes, and those students shouldn’t be left behind while everybody else involved prospers. The NCAA’s restraints on prospective students’ ability to meaningfully negotiate NIL deals violate federal antitrust law. Only Congress has the power to impose such limits.”

The state believes a recent Supreme Court ruling violated antitrust law.

“After the Supreme Court ruled that the NCAA violated antitrust law by imposing unreasonable restraints on the compensation college athletes may receive, Tennessee and other states enacted laws to foster a thriving NIL market for the benefit of student-athletes,” according to the release. “Contrary to those state laws, the NCAA has adopted a shifting and opaque series of rules and guidelines that thwart the ability of student-athletes to get fair compensation for their NIL.”

Student-athletes ready to enroll cannot discuss potential NIL opportunities with schools and collectives under the current law.

According to the state, prospective student-athletes are:

  • prevented from negotiating with collectives,
  • unable to review NIL offers before making enrollment decisions,
  • cannot adequately consider the full scope of NIL-related services a school might offer upon enrollment

“Student-athletes generate massive revenues for the NCAA, its members, and other constituents in the college sports industry, none of whom would dare accept such anti-competitive restrictions on their ability to negotiate their own rights. Student-athletes shouldn’t be left behind while everyone else profits from their achievements,” according to the release.

Read the lawsuit HERE.

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Ron Moses is the managing editor of the Upper Cumberland Business Journal and can be reached via email. Send an email.

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