FSU petitioning NCAA to rescind penalties related to NIL recruiting violations

Florida State is petitioning the NCAA over NIL-related recruiting violations. (Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Florida State is petitioning the NCAA over NIL-related recruiting violations. (Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Florida State is petitioning the NCAA to rescind penalties imposed on the school for NIL-related recruiting violations after a court this spring enjoined the association from enforcing its own rules, according to a letter the school sent the NCAA earlier this month.

The three-page letter, obtained by Yahoo Sports, was sent this week to the chair and managing directors of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions. The letter outlines reasons for a reconsideration of a subsection of penalties, including an imposed fine, scholarship reductions, recruiting restrictions and a disassociation of a booster.

The penalties are the result of a rule-breaking incident that transpired in 2022, when a booster and representative of the school’s NIL collective made an offer to a prospect. In January, the school entered into a negotiated resolution with the NCAA over the case, which featured the most serious sanctions handed down since the organization in 2021 permitted athletes to earn compensation from their name, image and likeness (NIL).

However, about six weeks after the finalization of the case, a U.S. District Court in Tennessee restrained the NCAA from enforcing its interim NIL policy prohibiting athletes from negotiating NIL compensation with third-party entities. As noted in the letter, the NCAA also announced that it was “pausing” current enforcement investigations that Florida State believes involve “NIL-related activity similar to the FSU case.”

As part of the negotiated resolution, FSU agreed to a three-game suspension of the assistant coach, offensive coordinator Alex Atkins, who drove the player to the booster meeting; a disassociation from one of its booster-led collectives; and myriad other sanctions, including a two-year probation, reductions in scholarships, recruiting communications and official visits, and a financial penalty equal to 1% of its athletic department budget.

The school agrees to serve the probation and suspend the coach, and it has already served a number of the recruiting sanctions. However, FSU argues that it is not obligated to serve several other penalties, including the fine, the reduction in five scholarships over the next two academic years and several other recruiting sanctions, such as a reduction in evaluation days and official visits this spring.

Additionally, the letter notes, the dissociation penalties and booster restrictions are “squarely tied” to the court’s preliminary injunction and “therefore cannot be enforced by FSU or the NCAA at this time.”

FSU is “disadvantaged” by taking steps to expedite the resolution of its case when other potential violators are benefiting from the NCAA’s pause in investigations, the letter says. FSU’s rival, the University of Florida, is under investigation for NIL-related rule-breaking as well — a case the school cites in a footnote of the letter.

“FSU should not be the only institution penalized simply because it was first in the queue, the violations for which it is responsible were more limited, and it cooperated fully to resolve the case,” the letter reads.

The letter was sent from the school’s Kansas City-based law firm, Bond, Schoeneck & King, to Kay Norton, the chair of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, and Matt Mikrut, the NCAA managing director of the office of the Committee on Infractions.

The NCAA is in an interesting position with active enforcement for rule-breaking. Along with the Tennessee case, the organization is on the precipice of a landmark settlement of several antitrust lawsuits — a decision that is expected to usher in a revenue-sharing model for athletes.