New game-changing laws and directives have now been put into place in a number of states, allowing college athletes to gain financially for using their name, image and/or likeness, said another way, they can now make money by the sale of jerseys or partnering with companies or products and using their own likeness/brand to help sell or promote.
Its fertile new ground that will no doubt be dissected every which way over the next few months. How much? From who? How will this be policed and by who? More questions are now in place than ever before. Over time, we will eventually get it all figured out and, it will become the new standard by which schools operate. In the interim though, I foresee a bit of a wild wild west before the dust settles. We have had a Supreme Court ruling on it, an NCAA directive GIVEN, and all entities weighing in. NIL is being handled in a variety of ways by different states. I’d be shocked if everyone is on the same page initially.
Being an NFL guy, I was thinking, how will this affect the National Football League and will there be unintended circumstances in this process as well?
I’ve heard it said that NIL will affect recruiting. What can a college program offer or what kind of marketing options are available if a student athlete selects a certain school? Will there be guarantees available to high school kids upon selecting a college or university? The answers to these questions will have zero effect on the National Football League. But what may have some carry over is, how these kids handle the new-found money and what comes with it.
At first glance, this is where we might see the dynamics change a bit. “the retaining of these student/athletes” once in school.
Said agent Ron Slavin (via Chase Goodbread of NFL.com), “I think guys that might stay back in school are (popular) skill-position players that aren’t top-100 picks, who can make more money staying in school than going into the draft for a $250,000 signing bonus and maybe make a roster, when they can go back to their school, be the superstar, and maybe make 500 grand to a million.”
So, yes…recruiting will indeed be affected. It will just be at a different time in the process in efforts to keep the player in school (when he still has eligibility left) and instead of the more traditional recruiting window of “when deciding what school of higher education to attend”. There will be other jumping off points for college athletes. That may have an effect on a player entering the NFL/draft.
Slavin is right, although Id be surprised if the numbers get to those heights. I don’t see the new rules having an effect on the top half of the draft players but rather those that may have gotten back information reflecting a late round or undrafted status. And if they can now truly make a half million dollars (and I am not sure how realistic that is, then a decision by said player, will have to be made before he pledges as an underclassman enters the draft.
So, for example, Nick Saban’s WR3 who will be a late round choice as a junior, can make $500k for staying in school, developing his game, and pushing himself up the draft board for the following year might be more the norm then coming out of school early. It will give schools another chip to keep players in school, which most NFL people will be in favor of anyway. This will counteract the line of thinking that a lot of these kids have that, “as long as I am going to get drafted, I’m coming out”. There are a lot of agents who push this narrative and its usually a bad decision for the kid in the end. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard of a kid being told “he’s going to be a first round draft choice so you might as well come out of school”, I might be full of bitcoin.
The intent of these sponsorship deals that athletes will now sign will be hard to gauge. Is the car dealership down the road from campus indeed trying to sell more cars or are they trying to entice WR3 to stay in school one more year? Or even more realistic, keep the WR from entering the transfer portal? So, I guess the answer is YES, these new laws could be a BIG recruiting tool.
A full review won’t be gauged correctly until we can answer all the questions. What is required of the athlete’s time and effort to receive the money, being the most relevant one when concerning the NFL. Scouts will now have to have an idea, how the prospect handled- his NIL- process. Was it a distraction? Did it have an effect on his play or even more importantly, has it changed his work ethic or was it an issue in the locker room with others? In the end, it’s a small window into his future of professional football. Once in the pros, will similar things effect his future performance. Might the management of all of this might over-whelm some? NFL teams will have to add an additional section to their scouting template.
There is a misnomer among college coaches/staffs that NFL people encourage players to come out early as well. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, in all my years, I can’t think of ever making a case for a player (unless they are going to be a lock to be a top 5 pick), his family or any other influencer of a student athlete, to come out of school early. It is strictly a business decision and I don’t see that changing.
Time will tell but look at a guy like USC QB Kedon Slovis. With a solid year, IMO, he stands a very good chance of being the first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. He will have completed his third year in college and be eligible for the NFL if he so choses. I don’t see this rule changing anything regarding his decision-making process. He will still stand to do way better financially in taking his game to the next level, as will others projected to be selected at the top of the draft.
One area where the new rules will have a direct affect is on a player being able to hire representation to advise him or her in this process. Now, hiring an agent for this purpose is allowed but comes with the caveat that there can be no discussion about an agreement to represent the player in a professional league until his eligibility is exhausted. Ya, right. Again, none of this matters to the NFL, but if you think agents and players will never discuss future representation you’re kidding yourself. Policing a dialogue of this nature will be next to impossible. And, when you have advisors involved you will have separate agendas at work. That is a FACT, not my opinion. The first shoe to drop was when Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler signed with a Leigh Steinberg (Patrick Mahomes agent) to make his NIL deals. Does anyone really think Steinberg won’t be used to gauge NFL status for the QB as it relates to the draft? Their business relationship will no doubt go a long way toward the next step, and Leigh will be very influential in the Rattler camp making a decision to enter the draft or not. I am not suggesting this is bad or unethical at all, it’s just a new relationship that merits monitoring for these kids. The best players more than likely will all have agents now as they navigate through college instead of waiting until they are on their way out the door.
These advisors will become not only messengers for student athletes and their families but also a source for NFL people looking to gather intel on a particular player. College staffs make a point to not talk about underclassmen as if they are coming out of school. Now, NFL teams will have a direct access point to go in order to find out if a kid is leaning toward staying in school or jumping to the NFL in the following year. Some NFL teams race every year for a list of Juniors contemplating coming out so they can start their evaluation process as early as possible. Managing this information and this new “third party” will take some adjusting by all entities.
The lack of a uniform nationwide policy will be challenging. Currently, 25 states have laws on or in the pipeline regarding NIL, but others are crafting state-governed policies. I’m sure that like any new change of landscape of this nature, there will be some unintended consequences. I think NIL will lend itself to more players staying in school which is good for the NFL, and for college football, in general. Let me know what I’m missing.