Headline: “Florida State Football Faces Severe Penalties for NIL-Related Recruiting Violations”

Tallahassee, Florida – Florida State football is facing significant penalties for violating name, image, and likeness (NIL) recruiting rules. This marks a watershed moment for the NCAA, as it hands down unprecedented sanctions in the 2.5 years since NIL was introduced. Multiple sources have confirmed these penalties, speaking anonymously to Yahoo Sports.

The violations are linked to a spring 2022 recruiting event and have resulted in punishments for a Florida State assistant coach, an NIL collective, a booster, and the football program itself. Offensive coordinator Alex Atkins, the assistant coach in question, has been found guilty of two Level II violations. These violations include engaging in impermissible recruiting activities and arranging unauthorized contact between a prospect and an NIL-related booster. Atkins allegedly transported a recruit and his parents to a meeting with a prominent member of the school’s NIL collective, Rising Spear.

During the meeting, the booster reportedly encouraged the prospect to choose Florida State and offered him an NIL opportunity worth around $15,000 per month for his first year at the university. As part of the sanctions, Atkins will be suspended for the first three games of the 2024 regular season and will be subject to a two-year show-cause penalty, requiring any school interested in hiring him to justify their decision to NCAA officials. It is expected that Atkins will continue in his current role at FSU.

In an unprecedented move for the NIL era, Florida State must sever ties with the NIL collective representative for three years. The school is also required to dissociate from the collective for one year. This means that the university cannot accept any assistance from the collective, nor can the collective contribute to FSU’s athletic program in any way. However, the NIL collective remains free to collaborate with FSU athletes on NIL-related ventures.

Additional penalties imposed by the NCAA include two years of probation, a 5% reduction in scholarships over the next two academic years, a decrease of seven official recruiting visits for 2023-24, a prohibition on recruiting communication for six weeks over the next two academic years (including Jan. 12-18), a ban on communication with athletes in the transfer portal from April 15-21, an 18-day reduction in evaluation days this spring, and a 1% financial penalty against the athletic department’s budget.

The NCAA’s rules regarding NIL remain unclear, with the association operating under an interim NIL policy that is subject to continuous change. This week, the NCAA adopted new guidance on NIL, but these changes are not retroactively applicable. The organization also recently introduced recommendations that permit schools to have increased communication with NIL collectives and facilitate deals with enrolled athletes.

These sanctions come at a challenging time for the Florida State program, which has been marred by controversy in recent months. The decision to exclude the undefeated Seminoles from the College Football Playoff sparked public outcry and legal challenges from Florida politicians. Furthermore, FSU filed a lawsuit challenging the Atlantic Coast Conference’s grant of rights, hinting at a potential departure from the conference. Amidst these issues, head coach Mike Norvell has emerged as a rumored contender for the vacant Alabama coaching position following Nick Saban’s surprising retirement.

Florida State officials and NCAA representatives have declined to comment on the matter, leaving several questions unanswered. The enforcement staff of the NCAA addressed general violations related to NIL regulations during a session at the NCAA convention, revealing their focus on instances of tampering and inducements linked to NIL. These violations include head coaches directly messaging players from other college teams to encourage transfers and athletes themselves reaching out to coaches to inquire about potential moves.

While frustration persists in college athletics due to the limited number of infractions cases related to NIL violations, this Florida State case marks another significant step in addressing these concerns. The NCAA has often emphasized the lack of evidence as a primary reason for not pursuing more cases.