NIL agents victimize former Georgia high school player, suit claims

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

An attorney for T.A. Cunningham, a five-star football recruit who played at Johns Creek last season, has filed suit seeking to have the player’s eligibility in California restored, claiming that Cunningham is homeless and deserves a hardship waiver partly because he was victimized by unethical NIL agents, according to the Orange County Register.

Cunningham is the No. 1 junior defensive-line recruit in the country, according to 247Sports. As a sophomore last season at Johns Creek, Cunningham had 32 solo tackles and 13 tackles for losses and was named honorable mention all-region.

Cunningham transferred to Los Alamitos High in southern California over the summer but was declared ineligible by the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section, which has transfer rules similar to those of the Georgia High School Association. Transfers typically must move with their family units into their new school districts.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction to allow Cunningham to play in Los Alamitos’ game Thursday against Santa Margarita Catholic and claims Cunningham hasn’t been given due process.

According to the newspaper, Cunningham’s family was evicted from its Georgia home in June and Cunningham’s parents still live in Georgia while Cunningham has been staying with Los Alamitos teammates.

The lawsuit alleges that the Cunningham family discussed an NIL agreement with a company called Levels Sports. The lawsuit states: “Levels Team promised that the Cunningham family would have a home, transportation and meals in California. A promise was even made that the Levels Team would provide a separate home in Georgia for (Cunningham’s) mother.’’

The lawsuit states that the agreement fell apart after Level Sports agent Chris Flores was charged with six counts of molesting a teenager, the Register reported.

An NIL agreement, legal throughout the NCAA, allows student athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness without losing their amateur status. The GHSA prohibits NIL deals for high school athletes. NIL deals are legal in 16 state associations, including the California Interscholastic Federation.