Tennessee AG threatened legal action against NCAA over potential bowl ban, per report
Tennessee football avoided a postseason ban in its NCAA violations case. A new report reveals that the state’s attorney general helped make sure the Volunteers would be able to play in the postseason.
Adam Sparks of the Knoxville News Sentinel reported Sunday that Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti threatened legal action against the NCAA if the Vols were banned from postseason participation as part of the punishment for past violations.
Skrmetti sent a letter to the NCAA on March 31, ahead of UT’s April 19 hearing with the Committee on Infractions. The letter argued that a bowl ban would be against state law.
“Tennessee law prohibits the NCAA from imposing such a sanction (as a postseason ban), and I will not hesitate to vindicate the rights of UT students to enjoy the full measure of their intercollegiate athletic opportunities,” Skrmetti wrote in the obtained letter.
“NCAA rules cannot supersede Tennessee law.”
Sparks’ report further details that Skrmetti cited Tennessee’s NIL law (Tennessee Code 49-7-2803). Skrmetti was willing to argue that a bowl ban would prevent a Tennessee athlete’s ability to be compensated for a violation they did not commit:
“An athletic association’s governing actions … must not interfere with an intercollegiate athlete’s ability to earn compensation in accordance with this part and must not otherwise impact an intercollegiate athlete’s eligibility or full participation in intercollegiate athletic events,” the law says, “unless the intercollegiate athlete has committed a violation of rules.”
While the NCAA did not give the Vols a postseason ban, the program was fined $8 million, which the NCAA determined to be the potential financial benefit of playing in 2024 and 2025 bowl games. Tennessee is also on 5 years of probation. Former head coach Jeremy Pruitt was given a 6-year show cause.
It’s anathema to law to punish the innocent. Under TN law, the NCAA cannot limit current student athlete opportunities because of the wrongful acts of former coaches and student athletes/recruits. As the bill sponsor, thanks to General Skermetti for upholding the law https://t.co/uJXHkZD1lq
— Sen. John Stevens (@SenJohnStevens) July 16, 2023