NIL: It’s Not The Money You Think
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the NCAA for violating anti-trust laws for having restrictions on schools paying education-related expenses of student-athletes. This ruling didn’t affect Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) compensation directly, however, it was Justice Kavanaugh’s singular opinion that set off the events that have happen this month.
Kavanaugh stated in his opinion that the NCAA’s rules restricting student-athletes from receiving compensation or benefits from their colleges for playing sports “also raises serious questions under the anti-trust laws.” Like many people across the country, I have thought that the players not receiving compensation was downright unfair. A few years ago, I had a 12 year old basketball player, along with his father from England attend Hakeem Olajuwon’s basketball camp stay at my hotel. His father was quite chummy and we got on pretty good. He made mention how he didn’t like how Lavar Ball exploited his sons for their possible future financial gains.
I had to explain to him that while I too found Lavar Ball to be obnoxious, but I didn’t disagree with his methods. While he wasn’t familiar with College football, I had to explain to him that American Football is the top sport here. In 2012, when Johnny Manziel had his Heisman Trophy winning season, his school, Texas A&M University, allegedly made over $74 million off of his Name, Image, and Likeness alone. I will never forget that Englishman’s face which was filled with shock and awe after I told him. All he could say was that Americans are just greedy.
Now that College athletes will receive NIL compensation, some athletes have immediately racked up endorsements well into the millions of dollars. Nick Saban has said his starting QB has almost received $1 million in endorsements before he has taken a single snap in a game. Master P’s son immediately signed a $2 million deal with a tech company before he even stepped on the basketball court. The argument has always been that if a student who attends these institutions on a music scholarship can make his own music and sell it to the masses, and these colleges and universities have no problem with that, but their athletes were never allowed to do the same thing.
With NIL compensation being a real thing now, we could easily see some writings on the wall for some things to happen further down the road, but DAMN. University of Texas and Oklahoma University have notified the Big 12 Conference that it will not be renewing their contract with the conference which ends in June 2025. They since have formally requested to join the Southeastern Conference (SEC).
What kills me about this, is the media’s reluctance to demonstrate how this move ties into NIL compensation for Texas and Oklahoma. Currently, these 2 schools are the anchors of the Big 12 Conference. Oklahoma has not dropped a beat in its competitive play, but Texas has not been too relevant for the last decade. Yet still, Texas brings in a Top 10 recruiting class each year.
NIL compensation will now change these schools recruiting pitch to these high school athletes. Texas and other schools of its ilk can no longer recruit on tradition. Texas can no longer tell these Texas parents that they can see their kids practice everyday on the Longhorn network. These athletes coming up today already have a following on social media. Their talent has to be matched up against the best on consistent basis. The Big 12 will not give these kids that opportunity.
Consider this, Zion Williamson had over a million followers on social media before playing one game of college basketball. With him taking his high school highlight reel to Duke and the ACC, perhaps the best conference in college basketball, Zion set up his future in the best way by going there. We got to see him sharpen his talent against the best talent in the country, and as it turned out, the team that had success against him and the Duke Blue Devils won the national championship.
The allowance of NIL compensation will expose a lot of things. Any school that is against this is letting potential recruits know that their alumni and boosters do not have a strong financial backing. More conferences will be looking to merge with one another or they will have their schools simply jump ship to merge with another one on their own. In the end, the right thing has been done, the athletes get to personally benefit from their talent alone.