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Tennessee has reportedly been in contact with NCAA over inquiry related to potential NIL infractions

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Tennessee has been in contact with NCAA investigators and a person with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Tuesday the inquiry is into potential rules violations related to name, image and likeness compensation for multiple athletes.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because both the school and the NCAA were not immediately releasing information regarding an investigation. The person said Tennessee has not received a notice of allegations from the NCAA.

The NCAA’s policy is to refrain from commenting publicly about current, pending or potential investigations, with rare exceptions.

The NIL collective that supports Tennessee athletes, Spyre Sports Group, was among the first and most well organized to emerge around the country after the NCAA lifted its ban on athletes making money off their fame.

The NCAA fined Tennessee more than $8 million last July to cap an investigation started by the university in November 2020. The NCAA needed more than 80 pages in its report outlining more than 200 infractions during the three-year tenure of former football coach Jeremy Pruitt.

Tennessee was found guilty of committing 18 Level I violations — the most severe. Most involved recruiting infractions and direct payments to athletes and their families with benefits totaling approximately $60,000.

The head of the panel ruling on the investigation called the violations “egregious and expansive” with Tennessee failing to monitor its football program.

Only Tennessee’s early cooperation with the NCAA kept the program from a postseason ban. Four former staffers were given show-cause orders, including one spanning six years for Pruitt, who was fired in January 2021.

The NCAA found most of the violations were related to a paid unofficial visit scheme used consistently by the football program over two years and involving at least a dozen members of the football staff.

Violations included at least 110 impermissible hotel room nights, 180 impermissible meals, 72 instances of providing impermissible entertainment or other benefits, 41 impermissible recruiting contacts, 37 instances of providing impermissible game day parking, and 14 times in which gear was impermissibly provided to prospects, according to the report.

Tennessee just wrapped up a third season with coach Josh Heupel going 9-4. His prized recruit, Nico Iamaleava from California, wrapped up his first season making his first career start in a 35-0 rout of Iowa in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day.

Iamaleava was the No. 2 recruit nationally in the 2023 class by 247Sports.com when he committed to Tennessee.

Reporting by The Associated Press.


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