The Tennessee Volunteers are once again under NCAA investigation for “major” rules violations, according to Sports Illustrated.
The subject of the investigation has to do with name, image and likeness (NIL) benefits that were received by Tennessee Volunteer student-athletes across multiple sports. The University of Tennessee acknowledged the investigation, but didn’t make any further comment.
The NCAA also declined to comment on the matter when asked by Sports Illustrated. In the article from Sports Illustrated, associate director of communications Meghan Durham Write said that the NCAA rarely comments on these things while they are still going on.
“With rare exceptions, the NCAA does not comment on current, pending or potential investigations due to confidentiality rules put in place by member schools,” associate director of communications Meghan Durham Wright said.
The Tennessee Volunteers committed over 200 rules infractions last year that weren’t directly related to NIL
The Tennessee Volunteers were fined over $8 million for the over 200 rules infractions they committed over former head coach Jeremy Pruitt’s three-year tenure last summer.
According to the report directly from the NCAA, there was 18 Level I infractions. Most of these infractions involved payments from the school to athletes’ families. One example of a violation occurred when the mother of a prospect received $6,000 in cash for a downpayment on a new vehicle.
Just last summer, Tennessee was penalized for more than 200 rules infractions in the football program. Now, there is reportedly more to come.
People were mad about Colorado and their 11
IS THERE INSTITUTIONAL CONTROL IN KNOXVILLE?????
Seriously 200?!?!?!?!?!?!?! https://t.co/3622m43SzS
— Erik Morse (@erockkid) January 30, 2024
In an article from PBS, the infractions panel that dished out the penalties for the violations expressed the difficulty involved in doing so.
“The panel encountered a challenging set of circumstances related to prescribing penalties in this case,” it said in its decision. “The panel urges the Infractions Process Committee and the membership to clearly define its philosophy regarding penalties — which extends beyond postseason bans — and memorialize that philosophy in an updated set of penalty guidelines.”
Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Nico Iamaleava has the most noteworthy NIL deal
Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Nico Iamaleava was a five-star recruit in the 2023 class. Iamaleava played in just five games this year. Iamaleava wasn’t the starting quarterback for the Volunteers until they took on the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Citrus Bowl.
Iamaleava accounted for four total touchdowns as he helped Tennessee to a 35-0 victory over one of the best defenses in college football.
In a 2022 report from The Athletic, an unnamed 2023 recruit signed an NIL deal worth more than $8 million. While he was unnamed at the time, Iamaleava turned out to be the player in question.
The report included the fact that there was shady verbiage in a similar deal that said the player in question might have to repay a portion of the contract at some point in time. Malik S. Jackson, an NIL attorney in Florida, expressed his concern for the unregulated nature of NIL contracts in the report from The Athletic.
“Man, that is terrifying, quite frankly,” Jackson said. “That was a terrible provision, and if that’s put in, that’s a sign the collective is not athlete-centric. It can’t be.”
It is not confirmed that Iamaleava is involved in the current investigation, but the massive nature of his contract is sure to draw attention, regardless of whether there is foul play.