In June 2021, the NCAA announced that student-athletes from across collegiate sports would be able to make money for the first time. Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) legislation allowed athletes to use their status in college sports to make money while in school beyond the scholarships they received from their school. This move was needed as collegiate sports has become a multi-billion-dollar industry that has seen the NCAA get significantly wealthy through the work of student-athletes.
I have always been a major proponent of student-athletes getting something for their hard work. Early morning practices, classes, studying followed by tape study and other parts of a packed schedule made them more like an athlete than a student-athlete. The old trope about "they are getting a free education" is something that doesn't work when the NCAA is making $10.8 billion billion dollars from the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament TV deal. When schools are building $30 million locker rooms with PlayStation 5's and a barber on standby, you know there is too much money in college athletics.
While NIL deals have created new marketing opportunities, there is a quickly becoming a seedy side to it. There have been reports of players being enticed to transfer to schools with the promise of excessive offers. There was even an instance where a player was offered a NIL deal, and the player hadn't even put his name into the NCAA's transfer portal. It is the Wild West right now, and unfortunately, there is no oversight right now from anyone, particularly the NCAA.
But let's be honest, getting the NCAA involved with the NIL conversation would only create chaos. The team working at the NCAA, led by president Mark Emmert, has proven time and time to be inept at anything they do, from investigations, select enforcement, and probably buying lunch in their offices in Indianapolis. The NCAA may almost be hoping this whole NIL experiment becomes a complete disaster to prove that paying student-athletes is a mortal sin and that everything should go back to the status quo of non-payment for them.
How Are Local Colleges Dealing With NIL's
When it comes to local schools, both Rutgers and Seton Hall are becoming proactive to any issues that could arise with NIL deals. Rutgers created Knights of the Raritan, a consortium of Rutgers' boosters that will help student-athletes at the school "leverage their name, image, and likeness during their time in New Brunswick and Piscataway while partnering with one of the nation's largest alumni networks." The advisory board of KTR features many former Rutgers athletes such as Quincy Dooby (men's basketball), Ryan Hart (football), and Brianne Reed (women's soccer).
What makes KTR even more interesting is that it's not just businesses working to create NIL deals with students. Knights of the Raritan will also accept donations from fans of Rutgers' athletics and others that will be distributed to athletes in all sports at the school.
"We want to make it easy for Rutgers fans and the tri-state corporate community to support Rutgers student-athletes," said Jon Newman, president of KTR, to NJ Advance Media. "We hope to educate Scarlet Nation and provide a 'front door' for those who want to invest in NIL opportunities for the Scarlet Knights."
For Seton Hall, while not as extensive as Rutgers, they have a plan with alum Eric Liebler. Liebler runs G3 Marketing, and through his firm, the idea is to create opportunities where players can make an income doing events and other marketing opportunities. One of the ideas are having a basketball camp with player being paid for their time through G3 Marketing,
“It’s a little bit of a passion project because I went to Seton Hall and it’s nice to be able to bring some deals to the players and be able to give back to the community with a camp,” Liebler said to the Asbury Park Press.
What To Do To Rein In NIL Deals
These two ideas are to attempt to keep athletes interested in coming to Seton Hall and Rutgers. NIL deals are becoming big business, plain and simple, and schools not on the level of the Alabama's in football or Kentucky's in basketball will suffer. The idea is to make the biggest NIL offers possible, and the schools will get the player…and the schools can play dumb because schools, coaches, and athletic directors know nothing about it. After all, they can't participate in anything to do with a NIL based on the few rules that apply right now.
Name, Image, and Likeness is an idea that I still believe in as it benefits student-athletes and could drive more athletes to stay in school for four years or more. But there have to be rules to keep it fair for everyone.
Unlike old guys who think college sports are crumbling because of NILs and coaches like Mike Krzyzewski and Jay Wright, who reportedly left the college game because of this changing landscape, there is room for this process to be kept clean and free of Nevin Shapiro-types. It will take a joint effort from conferences, coaches, and athletic directors to keep this from spiraling. The only thing I ask is this…
LEAVE THE NCAA OUT OF IT.