The NCAA has issued a statement regarding its investigation into Tennessee’s football program.

The investigation reportedly centers around the Vols’ recruitment of quarterback Nico Iamaleava, a former 5-star quarterback prospect who is an active member of Tennessee’s football program.

The decision by the NCAA to release a statement comes after attorney generals from Tennessee and Virginia filed a federal lawsuit against the NCAA on Wednesday morning. In this new statement, the NCAA claims it is only enforcing the rules that its member schools asked it to.

Here’s the statement:

“While the NCAA generally does not comment on specific infractions cases, it is important to remember that NCAA member schools and conferences not only makes the rules but routinely call for greater enforcement of those rules and holding violators accountable.

In recent years, this has been especially true as it relates to establishing and enforcing a consistent set of national rules intended to manage the name, image and likeness environment. This legal action would exacerbate what our members themselves have frequently described as a “wild west” atmosphere, further tilting competitive imbalance among schools in neighboring states, and diminishing protections for student-athletes from potential exploitation.

The NCAA remains firmly committed to protecting and expanding student-athletes’ NIL rights and opportunities. However, our membership has steadfastly supported the prohibition on impermissible recruiting contacts, booster involvement in recruiting prospects and the use of NIL offers as recruiting inducements.”

Spyre Sports, the NIL collective who has come under scrutiny as a result of this investigation, released a statement of its own on Tuesday denying any wrongdoing. The statement says any agreement with Iamaleava explicitly did not include an “inducement” to attend Tennessee.

Tennessee chancellor Donde Plowman has also fiercely defended the Vols’ football program since news of this investigation first broke earlier this week. On Wednesday, Plowman explained why she is fighting back so hard against the NCAA.

“Think about it this way: If someone charges you, or your family, or your children with something, that you didn’t do,” Plowman said, “and you think is unfair, you’re going to speak up. There’s no question in my mind about what to do. I made that clear in the letter, and when you’re leading a university and someone attacks you, and makes an allegation that isn’t true, I will always respond.”

Iamaleava is slated to be Tennessee’s starting quarterback this fall. There is no timetable for the NCAA to finish its investigation into this matter.

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