Tennessee lawmakers change NIL law; make universities more competitive

New law allows university officials to talk directly with NIL groups.
Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 9:12 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Tennessee lawmakers updated the state’s name, image and likeness laws by allowing NIL groups to talk directly with university officials, current and prospective student athletes.

State leaders said this gives Tennessee universities a competitive advantage in comparison to other states. This means NIL groups, like Spyre Sports, can have direct contact with UT athletic director Danny White and coaches.

Spyre Sports co-founder, Hunter Baddour, said, “Tennessee is an exciting place to be. Neyland Stadium and just the fans; I think there’s some real momentum right now with all sports on campus.”

The new law gives student athletes the opportunity to have direct contact with their coaches and NIL groups about possible opportunities to collect money on. Athletic departments can also host events solely based off of potential NIL deals.

Baddour said, “We have incredible leadership over at the University of Tennessee. These are smart, innovative and forward-thinking leaders that understood that this would only help enhance the NIL student-athlete experience.”

Even though this law allows NIL groups and coaches to speak directly with recruits about deals, current NIL rules state a recruit can not base his or her decision solely on an NIL opportunity.

Rep. Jason Zachary of Knoxville said these changes give UT Athletics the tools to succeed.

“It’s a big deal so we owe that to make sure they can maintain a high level of competitiveness,” Zachary said.

The Tennessee General Assembly created its first round of rules last year and those laws have changed this year and Zachary said they’ll likely change again in the future.

“I think this is just something that as the climate changes and this is still new for everyone that there will probably be initial steps down the road that we don’t foresee now that will have to change down the road,” Zachary said.

The only other SEC state to change its NIL laws in a similar way is Mississippi.

WVLT News reached out to UT Athletics for comment on the new law. Officials said they do not have a statement and likely won’t provide one in the future.

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