It’s been almost a year since the NCAA gave college athletes theof their own name, image or likeness, a move that supporters of the policy say would allow young sports stars to take advantage of the big bucks they help generate for their schools. Now, critics are warning of unintended consequences and even potential recruiting corruption, pointing to the growing number of private boosters brokering deals to lure top players to their alma mater.
So-called NIL offers have become so popular since the announcement of the new NCAA policy that the ability to cash in is now the top factor promising young athletes consider when choosing a college, coaches have said. and sports business experts at CBS MoneyWatch.
“What the public should be aware of is that these NIL laws were created in the spirit of benefiting players – and they are,” said sports marketing and image expert Tim Derdenger. mark at Carnegie Mellon University. “But teams also use them to improve, and they do that by creating these callback entities that route NIL offers to these players.”
NIL offers occur when a company pays a college athlete to endorse or use its products or services. In most cases, players promote the company or product on their personal social media accounts. In return, the athlete is usually paid hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Hoping to land more NIL deals, many college boosters have consolidated their efforts and financial resources to form groups called “collectives.” Collectives effectively operate as third parties seeking to match high school and college athletes with companies that wish to sponsor NIL deals. Collectives strike a deal with a company, then offer the potential NIL partnership to a student-athlete – if the player commits to attending a specific school.
The collectives and wealthy individuals behind them are willing to spend millions to strike NIL deals for players in the hopes they will lead a school to a championship – a financial boon for major sports such as football and basketball -ball, CBS Sports reported.
Still, a growing number of college officials and coaches are concerned about the extent to which potential NIL dollars are influencing athletes’ higher education choices, said Todd Berry, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association in Texas. . In theory, each school is supposed to have an equal chance of convincing a player to attend and compete at their establishment. In practice, experts say the playing field is far from level and risks creating an environment where schools suspend NIL agreements to ‘buy’ players.
University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban last month accused rival Texas A&M University of exploiting the new rules to add players.
“A&M bought every player on their team – made a deal for name, image and likeness,” Saban said. “We haven’t bought a single player. But I don’t know if we can maintain that in the future because more and more people are doing it.”
“The haves against the have-nots”
NIL has fundamentally changed the way college athletes choose which school they will attend, Derdenger said. It’s no longer about having a good education, playing for a great coach or living close to home. “Now you go to the school that is going to give you the best NIL offer,” he said.
This could eventually lead to a “haves and have nots” system in college athletics in which no more than a dozen graduate schools can deploy their booster collectives to organize NIL sponsorships, Derdenger said.
Schools that can’t offer lucrative NIL deals will have to offer different incentives to attract top players, said Hue Jackson, head football coach at Grambling State University in Louisiana.
“Small teams are trying to find ways to play in this NIL world,” Jackson told CBS MoneyWatch. “As a coach you want big things to happen to them at every avenue because otherwise the players will say, ‘Why should I go here when I can get a better NIL deal here? “”
For now, the NILs primarily impact recruiting in college football, but they could eventually expand to college basketball and baseball, Derdenger said.
How much can athletes earn?
Just days after the NIL rules came into force last year, businesses and academic playersusing apps like Air, MatchPoint and Opendorse. While some deals — like Ohio State quarterback Quinn Ewers’ $1.4 million deal with GT Sport — are big money, most are more modest three- or four-figure deals. Top college players earn an average of $664 per NIL contract, according to April data from Opendorse, a company that matches players with commercial sponsors.
It’s unclear how many college players have signed NIL contracts through collectives, as no organization officially tracks these deals nationwide. But CBS Sports reported that there are about 100 collectives in the United States, suggesting that these groups already play a prominent role in organizing the NILs.
This week, Saban walked back his comments on Texas A&M, saying his words were simply meant to point out how the NIL agreements determine where players attend college.
He and other coaches are concerned about NIL’s influence on recruiting because such deals threaten to weaken their own influence over where players sign up, Berry said. Until recently, coaches could often sway an incoming student by offering a free, or at least affordable college education.
“The academic side, it’s not discussed at all,” Berry said. “The first question that comes out of their mouth is ‘How much money will I make?'”