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Why Tennessee Chancellor Donde Plowman’s shot at NCAA was historic and might just work

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Tennessee’s response to the latest NCAA probe was about as traditional as argyle end zones. 

That’s not to say it was right or wrong when Chancellor Donde Plowman shot off a letter to the NCAA questioning its leadership, morality and, basically, everything else other than the governing body’s ability to color with crayons. Whether it works in Tennessee’s favor or not, it just wasn’t like anything ever seen at the University of Tennessee in well over 50 years of modern-day athletics.

Tennessee was long seen as the model school when it came to working with the NCAA. The Vols were the NCAA’s kryptonite. There was no accusation of wrongdoing that didn’t bounce off the Vols’ Power T-emblazoned chest. Tennessee’s athletic department could do no wrong, as long as they admitted to doing just about everything wrong.

Cheer on Plowman if you wish. She might have this whole NCAA thing figured out. In fact, Plowman may be the first person in power to challenge the NCAA to the point in which they are proven utterly powerless. However, she may have also poked a sleeping bear. Plowman seems to be banking on the fact that the bear has been declawed and on Ambien. Perhaps it has. Looks like we’re about to find out.

Plowman could also be protesting too much. Could her strong retort to an NCAA investigation be cause for UT fans to be concerned about the substance of said investigation? That’s very doubtful, but it’s worth noting.

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Let’s clear this up right now. While there should be some statute of limitations on any NCAA violation, if a rule was broken that is no longer a rule, it’s still a violation. Just because a speed limit is raised, previous violators don’t receive a refund on their paid speeding tickets. However, the entire philosophy of college football has changed. There’s no denying that.

So what is really going on here? From various sources, the NCAA is taking issue with the public stance that some collectives have taken when it come to NIL payments to high school prospects. I don’t need to tell you how much publicity redshirt freshman Nico Iamaleava received when he reportedly signed an NIL deal to be a Vol.

And for the record, it doesn’t matter who reported the news. The NCAA wanted the information out so they leaked it. This isn’t the time to attack reporters who fans might have a vendetta against.

The NCAA seems to want one thing, for Tennessee’s collectives just to keep quiet. The NCAA doesn’t want third-party entities to be overzealous when it comes to paying prospects, which wasn’t what NIL was intended for in the least, even though it certainly has seemed that way.

Plowman’s historic response must have driven by something. Perhaps it was the fact that the second national signing day is just a few days away. However, it’s not that. Her response is a declaration that the NCAA has no power any longer, that they can run the NCAA basketball tournament, but the smart people in the room will make the big decisions when it comes to football. 

Plowman’s classic comeback to the NCAA shouldn’t be forgotten. It wasn’t only a major shift for Tennessee; it might prove to be the first sign that the NCAA is on life support.

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