After losing in court, the NCAA is pausing investigations into no-third-party deals with athletes

Yet another loss in the courtroomthe NCAA has halted investigations into booster-sponsored groups or other third parties that strike name, image and likeness compensation deals with Division I athletes.

In a letter to member schools on Friday, NCAA President Charlie Baker said the Division I Board of Regents directed enforcement staff to “pause and not initiate investigations involving third-party participation in NIL-related activities.”

This step comes a week after A A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction In a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of Tennessee and Virginia. The antitrust lawsuit challenges the NCAA's rules against recruiting inducements, saying they inhibit athletes' ability to profit from their fame and notoriety.

“There will be no penalty for conduct that occurs consistent with the injunction while the injunction is in place,” Baker wrote in the letter obtained by The Associated Press. “I agree with this decision, while progress is being made toward long-term solutions and while we await discussions with prosecutors. In less than ideal circumstances, this at least gives members notice of the Board's implementation directions.

The judge's decision has raised speculation about whether the NCAA will file a long-term appeal as it struggles to preserve its decades-old amateurism model for athletes in the face of rapid change. Baker noted that three specific policies involving nil compensation remain in effect and will be implemented, including a ban on schools playing athletes directly and any pay or compensation specifically tied to athletic performance.

This move was not surprising.

“The NCAA is basically saying we're not going to do anything that's illegal,” said Joshua Lince, a former lawyer and college athletics director who is now an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas.

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Lens also noted that Baker avoided mentioning Congress in his statement.

“This is fascinating to me because almost all of his statements in the last few months, if not longer, have been an open call for Congress to participate. And now, today, there's no mention of that,” Lens said.

Those who work for and with Associations funded by the donor Those who handle multi-million-dollar NIL deals with college athletes say lifting antiquated recruiting rules will bring more clarity and simply allow what was once prohibited.

The NCAA's only jurisdiction over collegiate groups was rules prohibiting boosters from participating in recruiting and offering money or anything of value to attend certain schools.

Even then, the school was at risk of being punished if one of the groups broke these rules. This is what happened in Tennessee, which is a draw NCAA scrutiny of NIL deals between athletes and Vol Club, Which is managed by Spyre Sports Group, a marketing agency.

The NCAA changed its enforcement agenda a week after Tennessee and Virginia celebrated victory in their public battle against the sanctioning body.

“They kind of had their hands forced because of the Tennessee ruling,” said Casey Havequist, a former Division I athlete who is now a higher education attorney at Breaker Graydon. Leave.

“But it hurts them. It's death by a thousand pieces of paper at this point.”

Officials from the University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Attorney General's Office declined to comment Friday.

Facing a wave of state laws clearing the way for college athletes to earn money based on their fame, the NCAA lifted its ban in 2021 while clarifying that nearly 500,000 athletes were still considered amateurs and could not get paid to play. The NIL was never intended to be an alternative to paying college athletes, but that's what it has become.

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Baker and the NCAA have so far unsuccessfully sought a limited antitrust exemption from Congress to set rules they say would preserve the amateur model of college athletics. This model is Under fire from multiple lawsuits and efforts by athletes to be considered school employees who can seek compensation, including collective bargaining rights.

While Baker spent most of his first year leading the NCAA in Washington, meeting with lawmakers, he stressed to members that it needed to come up with its own solutions.

in December, Baker proposed a radical shift The way schools that compete at the highest level of college sports compensate their athletes.

Baker's project, called DI, calls for all 363 Division I schools to offer unlimited educational benefits and enter into NIL licensing deals with athletes. The hope is that by bringing NIL activities in-house, it could reduce the need for cooperatives to arrange compensation and pay athletes.

Baker also proposed creating a new Division I level, where schools would be required to pay at least $30,000 annually to at least half of their athletes.

The proposal for a new level of DI was met with a great reception by many of the schools whose schools would be most affected, but Baker stressed that the idea was intended to start conversations about possible solutions.

The Big Ten and Southeastern Conference, the richest and most powerful Division I leagues, formed the A.J Joint Advisory Committee last month to try to address many of the issues facing college sports.

“Now we have this judge indicating that he supports the NCAA continuing to not allow schools to directly compensate for NIL,” Lince said. “So we started kind of going around in circles a little bit while trying to figure this out.”

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AP College Football Writer Ralph D. contributed to this report. Rousseau.


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