Is it panic time for Tennessee Vols fans again? Pat Forde of SI reported Tuesday, subsequently followed by The New York Times, that the NCAA is looking into the university for alleged violations again, less than a year after the investigation from the Jeremy Pruitt scandal wrapped up. Here are five things we know so far.
Violations over NIL: Reportedly “major,” but details “scarce”
UT has what may be the largest NIL collective, Spyre Sports, in college football. It’s been an open secret that they used it on the recruiting trail, in the transfer portal, and to keep certain players. Reporting that the violations are major while the details are scarce, though, leaves much open to interpretation.
Multiple Tennessee Vols sports involved
Although Tennessee Football will be the main target, as we are about to mention, multiple sports are reportedly involved, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. That would seem to suggest this targets the collective, as you wouldn’t think the athletic department itself is cheating, but we have to wait and see.
Nico Iamaleava, Tennessee Vols collective mentioned
Spyre Sports facilitates the Tennessee Vols NIL collective The Volunteer Club. This, according to 247Sports, is the main subject of the probe right now. Nobody would deny that Spyre has been out front about its involvement with UT. Could that have been to a detriment?
As for the specific case, Nico Iamaleava, the most high-profile player in college football, is involved. According to The New York Times, a group of boosters allegedly using a private jet to fly Iamaleava to campus during his recruitment is part of the investigation. It was reported by The Athletic in 2022 that Iamaleava received $8 million in NIL money.
No comment or notice of allegation from NCAA
Not in NYT, SI, Knox News or 247Sports did the NCAA release a comment, which only makes the “scarce” detail seem more scarce. On top of that, the university reported that it has received no notice of allegation from the NCAA yet. Simply put, this has a long way to go.
UT denies wrongdoing: Donde Plowman SLAMMED probe
In the midst of this, the university denied any wrongdoing, and University of Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman responded to NCAA President Charlie Baker insisting as such while describing the NCAA as “morally wrong.” She also called the allegations factually “flawed.”
Such forcefulness, in a letter you can read here, indicates that Plowman is pretty confident the Tennessee Vols are on solid legal ground. However, people can be forceful in defending themselves when they are guilty all the time, so we will just have to wait and see how this plays out.