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Judge Bars NCAA from Enforcing Name, Image, and Likeness Rules in Recruiting

 |  February 25, 2024

In a blow to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on Friday, barring the organization from enforcing its regulations that prohibit compensating recruits for their name, image, and likeness (NIL). The injunction, demanded by the states of Tennessee and Virginia, marks another setback for the NCAA’s governance of college sports and its roughly 500,000 athletes.

U.S. District Judge Clifton Corker, presiding over the Eastern District of Tennessee, delivered the ruling, challenging a foundational principle of the NCAA’s amateurism model. The decision contends that the NCAA’s stance likely violates antitrust laws, emphasizing the harm inflicted on athletes who are unable to ascertain their true value before committing to a school, reported AP.

Gabe Feldman, a sports law professor at Tulane University, highlighted the precarious position the NCAA finds itself in, suggesting that Congressional intervention might be the organization’s saving grace amid mounting legal challenges. Despite the NCAA’s expected appeal, Feldman underscored the unprecedented nature of the multifaceted attacks the NCAA is facing, signaling an urgent need for reform in college sports governance.

Related: The NCAA Faces New Antitrust Suit

The injunction’s implications raise concerns about potential exploitation of athletes and the emergence of a disjointed regulatory landscape. Questions loom over whether boosters will seize the opportunity to offer lucrative deals to prospective recruits, potentially exacerbating an already complex situation.

While the NCAA expressed intentions to review the ruling and engage member schools in discussions on policy changes, it cautioned against upheaving established regulations. Emphasizing the necessity of congressional involvement, NCAA President Charlie Baker stressed the need for legislative action to provide stability and clarity for college athletes’ future.

Helen Drew, a professor of sports law at the University of Buffalo, pointed out the accelerating pace of developments, contrasting the NCAA’s previous inaction with the current whirlwind of legal challenges and reforms. Baker’s acknowledgment of the imperative for congressional intervention underscores the urgency of addressing the evolving landscape of college athletics governance.

Source: AP News