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Name, Image and Likeness has changed the entire landscape of collegiate athletics, just ask Auburn athletic director John Cohen. The 56-year-old, who left the same position at Mississippi State in October, recently spoke to how a focus on NIL impacts other projects like renovations and upgrades.
It is as simple as this — nice facilities are great, but they ultimately do not matter if the athletes that reside within them are not up to the standard of the SEC. If your team is bad, the beauty and functionality of its practice field is largely irrelevant.
There is a glaring need to renovate the north end zone of Jordan-Hare Stadium. That has been the case for nearly a decade.
Cohen told the Montgomery Advertiser back in February that he is well-aware of the need to do so.
Even the most casual fan looks into our north end zone and sees that we have room for improvement there, and I think we’re gonna get there.— John Cohen, via Montgomery Advertiser
It is now May and Auburn has not made much progress in terms of rennovations. Why? NIL.
Cohen told the Advertiser that “everything’s been on the table in terms of facility updates, and the north end zone is something that has come up conversationally.” Information and data have been gathered, but the can is still being kicked down the road.
Bruce Pearl has also pushed for a new basketball facility since his arrival on The Plains. The men’s and women’s team, and volleyball and gymnastics all use the two floors in Neville Arena.
He has since changed his tune.
Auburn is largely prioritizing NIL.
Pearl would rather see more money contributed to the school’s NIL collectives. Cohen is not in disagreement with his basketball coach’s train of thought regarding the flow of money.
Name, Image and Likeness funding comes from a very similar source of facility funding. I mean, that’s the reality of it. It’s not a secret. All of you are fully aware of that. So, we have to go in this with our eyes open, and we have to make priority decisions in terms of the flow of funding for priority.
I don’t think it’s any secret that name, image, and likeness opportunities for student-athletes has become a priority around the country, and we have to be competitive in that area. And thank goodness we have groups of folks who believe that as well. Those two things have to balance out − future facility opportunities, along with opportunities for our student-athletes.— John Cohen, via the Montgomery Advertiser
Now, this is not to say that the Tigers are completely abandoning renovations or facility projects. Auburn is currently upgrading its baseball stadium. The north end zone at Jordan-Hare is top-of-mind.
That side of things is in progress, but what is the point of redoing the football stadium if the product on the field is terrible as a direct result of a lack of NIL funds? The landscape has changed.