SEC News: Judge grants preliminary injunction in NIL case; what happens now?

A judge has granted a preliminary injunction against the NCAA in Tennessee & Virginia's case against them. What does that mean going forward?

Nov 17, 2023; Charlottesville, VA, USA; The NCAA logo at the NCAA cross country championships course
Nov 17, 2023; Charlottesville, VA, USA; The NCAA logo at the NCAA cross country championships course / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What is the preliminary injunction against the NCAA going to mean for college football going forward?

The landscape of college football is ever-changing in this modern era. NIL and the transfer portal have shifted the look and feel of the sport we all love—in some ways for the better, and in some ways for the worse.

One thing has become clearer and clearer, however, and it is the eventual redundancy of the NCAA. The amateurism model upon which the organization operates is becoming increasingly unpopular among fans and players, and most who follow these things closely can tell that the time is growing short for the current iteration of the governing body of collegiate athletics.

Another canary in the coal mine here is the recent ruling by a judge in a case that the states of Tennessee and Virginia have brought against the NCAA. After the NCAA levied sanctions against the University of Tennessee and others for breaking rules surrounding NIL, the Attorney Generals of both of these states brought a case against the NCAA, seeking to strip them of their ability to enforce these rules.

Before I get into any of this in a lot of depth, here is my "I am not a lawyer" disclaimer. I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

One of the asks that these AGs made was for a preliminary injunction against the NCAA. Essentially, what that means is that the NCAA would be legally barred from enforcing several rules (it would be up to the judge to determine the scope of the injunction).

For that to take place, the AGs would have to convince the judge that the NCAA's rules were imminently impacting the proposed injured parties (in this case, the athletes). The argument would be that the current rule structure surrounding NIL is causing "irreparable harm," to use the phraseology from the initial filing, to the athletes—whether through its vagueness or its potentially unconstitutional regulation of their ability to conduct commerce (get NIL deals).

Well, according to VolReport, it looks like a judge has ruled in favor of the states' case. This is potentially an earth-shattering ruling: here's why.

Because of the terms of the injunction, the NCAA is currently legally barred from enforcing any of their rules surrounding NIL compensation. Because of that, athletes can, at the moment, negotiate directly with collectives or even individual boosters—previously completely taboo but simultaneously definitely happening everywhere anyway.

The other piece of this is that the NCAA's "rule of restitution" is barred from being enforced on any deal negotiated during this time (until the lawsuit is complete). As College Football Nerds explains on Twitter, this was a rule the NCAA previously used to cover themselves during court disputes: they could retroactively punish schools for activity that broke their rules, even if the rules themselves were currently being disputed in court.

For all the "Wild West" talk beforehand, this is about to truly become the Wild West. The NCAA is unable to enforce any of their rules surrounding NIL compensation until the lawsuit is resolved (which could take a while). If they lose the lawsuit, the rules will never come back; that, too, could be the first domino in the entire amateurism model crashing down.

I'll leave the rest of the speculation to people more qualified than I am, but suffice it to say this is potentially massive. More on this situation will come as it develops.