For a long time I had disdain for the NCAA and the way it treated it’s high profile student athletes.  The fact that many big time basketball and football athletes would be in their dorms sometimes starving, meanwhile their jerseys would be selling hot off the racks of the school store. 

 It was former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon who started the debate many years ago with a law suit against the NCAA over using his name, image and likeness without his permission.  For many years some sort of pay to play system had been discussed. 

Now we are here and student athletes after a long fight are able to use their names, images, likeness to broker deals with companies and be compensated while in school.

The spirit of the rule and the letter of the law is for students to hire management of some sort commonly an advisor or any agent, and to use their exposure, to leverage themselves into an endorsement deal with an apparel company or some other interested corporate or small business interest. 

NIL was not intended to be used as a way to pay to play players.  Alabama’s Head football Coach Nick Saban has started a firestorm over his displeasure over how the system has been working. 

While he believes his program he believes is participating in the right way as the rule intended, he sees his counterparts at Texas A&M coached by Jimbo Fisher, someone that coached under Saban, as bending the rules and buying payers with paychecks from Boosters.  Instead of the young recruits that were apart of a #1 recruiting class for Texas A&M coming to school and brokering their own deals, boosters would fill coffers of the University’s football program and use that money as a slush fund to pay players to come to Texas A&M. 

At least that is what many allege about Texas A&M’s big haul of top recruits that rolled into town this spring.  Even after being accused of buying players by Coach Saban, Jimbo Fisher did not categorically deny that he the University bought players.

Jackson State Head Coach Deion Sanders was also name checked by Coach Saban in his rant in front of Alabama boosters, and while Coach Prime did not like the way his name was being used by Saban, he denies his top recruit Travis Hunter received a million dollar NIL deal. 

But while he did not like being publicly called out on his own social media account, Coach Prime said that college football had a problem that they were now basically dealing with million dollar athletes and that college coaching staffs would need to recruit new people to be able to deal with the new incoming wealthy athletes. 

In the same video he also acknowledged that the “big boys” or major Division I programs do engage in pay for play, more or less agreeing with Coach Saban’s comment.

My hopes for NIL are that they help those great college athletes that never make it in the pros.  That those Tim Tebow like guys can have a great college career and represent a brand and come out with a few million dollars to show for you efforts that made your University and Coach wealthy, and you earned your piece of the piece as well.  I also want to see college basketball players who maybe aren’t ready for the NBA stay in school for another year but with hundreds of thousands or even a million dollars in their pocket, so they can support their family without rushing into the league where it takes years for them to develop. 

Or worse they never catch on, and make it.  I would also love to see black owned brands give NIL deals to kids to get them to go to HBCUs.  There are lots of great possibilities with NIL, but it still needs to be regulated so that it’s fair to players and is done on an at least a somewhat even playing field.

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