The NCAA made some folks in college football nervous this week when they announced that they intend to crack down on booster involvement in NIL deals.

The Tennessee Vols are perceived to be one of the big benefactors of the new NIL rules. Several collectives, including Spyre Sports, have stepped up in to help facilitate deals between athletes and companies.

Boosters — and the NCAA has deemed collectives as boosters — aren’t allowed to give money to players for signing with a program or transferring to a program.

Here’s what the release from the NCAA said this week:

The guidance defines a booster as any third-party entity that promotes an athletics program, assists with recruiting or assists with providing benefits to recruits, enrolled student-athletes or their family members. The definition could include ‘collectives’ set up to funnel name, image and likeness deals to prospective student-athletes or enrolled student-athletes who might be considering transferring. NCAA recruiting rules preclude boosters from recruiting and/or providing benefits to prospective student-athletes.

Rumors/rumblings — which haven’t been confirmed — over the last month have indicated that a collective worked a deal to pay five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava $8 million to commit to Tennessee.

That’s something that’s technically illegal. And if collectives aren’t allowed to work deals with players, it could have an adverse effect on recruiting for the Vols.

It’s easy to see why some fans are concerned.

But there’s really no need for concern.

The statement from the NCAA isn’t a new rule. It’s the same rule that’s been in place — NIL deals that are made with the intent of paying a player to sign with a program have always been illegal.

Of course, there’s not really any good way for the NCAA to enforce that rule. They can’t tell a player that they can’t receive money from a booster-owned business without facing the threat of an antitrust lawsuit.

Quarterback Hendon Hooker throws passes during Tennessee football spring practice at University of Tennessee on Saturday, March 26, 2022.
Kns Ut Spring Fball 5 0754

The NCAA, essentially, doesn’t like how public these NIL deals have become. They don’t like that collectives are basically bragging about paying recruits and players. And I get it — the perception is that it’s the wild wild west and the NCAA has no control (and they really don’t).

This is nothing but a scare tactic from the NCAA. The collectives that are helping Tennessee — along with all the other collectives in college football — just need to keep these deals a little quieter. That’s it. Very little will come of this, unless a collective just gets extremely sloppy.

The new world of NIL deals, recruits, and players earning money off their name, image, and likeness isn’t going anywhere. Tennessee can still continue to use this as an advantage in recruiting…they should probably just tone down how public these deals become.

Featured image via Calvin Mattheis/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK