I think we have gone way off-center. Not sure if we were quite there in the first place. Over the years, we have seen cookie-crunching issues in sports across the board. We have changed decades of history. Even the insiders and aficionados are confused.
Just take a look at your alma mater. What conference do they play in? Maryland has always been identified with the ACC and now lines up in the Big Ten. Missouri an original Big Eight and Big 12 member, jumped to the SEC.
College football is a multibillion-dollar business. Colleges are about revenue and the football program at Michigan underwrites all other sports at that university. Colleges are leapfrogging to the money trails and so are the college athletes.
Name, image and likeness, or NIL, is an opportunity for young athletes to get attention, become famous and earn revenue. A decision by the US Supreme Court in June 2021 now permits athletes to make money from their fame.
The athletes can make money by allowing businesses to use their own name, image and likeness to sell or endorse a product. The agreements are titled “NIL” deals.
Now, athletes — even high school athletes — are earning unheard-of money from these deals.
One top QB who transferred signed a NIL deal that will pay him $1 million dollars before he throws his first pass for his new school.
A sophomore in high school signed a $400,000 NIL deal at the age of 16.
College athletes have a new brand. Themselves!
For years the NCAA controlled a money stream that was unmatched. Year after year, it benefited from student-athletes and kept all the money.
That ship has sailed. It’s a new day. And it’s a brand-new era. The monopoly has been broken and the athletes are moving forward and bankrolling dollars like never before.
Is it good? Personally, I have mixed emotions.
I’m concerned about the integrity of the game and the competitive nature of amateur status, among other issues.
In addition, you now have the transfer portal that allows athletes to transfer from one university to another overnight, without sitting out one academic calendar year before resuming play.
LSU lost its entire basketball team with 12 players transferring away from Baton Rouge. Meanwhile, five Duke freshmen have declared for the NBA draft.
The highest court in the land has opened the floodgates for college athletes to have incredible flexibility to build their position and equity.