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Destin, Florida- Every single day brings a new wrinkle into the NIL conversation around college athletics and Florida’s Billy Napier is all for one big change to how players get a piece of the pie. Most of the NIL deals we’ve seen so far have centered around the players individually, but maybe allowing the athletes to get some of the money that television rights produce could solve some of these problems.
The Gators head coach was asked on Tuesday morning about the potential of SEC players getting a cut of the tremendous amount of money that television contracts bring in. Noting that if the players don’t show up to play, networks won’t make their money and players could benefit from some type of compensation for their work on the field.
In the coming years, ESPN will be fully invested with the SEC, agreeing to a contract that could see the conference be paid $3 Billion, once the grandfathered CBS deal expires. A deal that will run for almost a decade, the SEC will start its contract with ESPN in 2024. This means that schools will receive a tremendous raise, starting in the next few years.
So, there’s a reason why Billy Napier would be open to the discussion of how to get players a piece of the pie.
“ If you go back to 1990, I did some research the other day, each SEC institution got like $1.3 million dollars from the league. 1990. Just 13 years ago, I think it was $6 or $7 million. I think this (2024 TV) deal is in the high $60s low $70 (millions). I’ve been in this profession and I’ve observed the explosion. I think it’s foolish to say that the players don’t deserve a piece of the pie. I think that if there’s no players in these stadiums they’re not showing up to watch. They’re certainly not sitting in their home watching it on TV.
“It all leads back to the money and I think the TV industry has the key to the castle,” Napier added. “You’ve got to get a lot of people to the table and there’s a lot of dialogue and a lot of conversations that have to happen.”
The deal that Napier was referring to, was the CBS contract in 2008, which will run out after the 2023 season. ESPN and the SEC agreed to a contract in 2013, which would also launch the SEC Network.
But for the time being, Napier still see’s a number of problems with the current NIL formula, noting that there aren’t many laws in what we’re seeing right now.
“Just in general. There’s a ton of grey area relative to what you can do and what you can’t do. There’s no manual, there’s no parameters, guidelines. I’m using the term, ‘we’re living in a land with no laws.’ I think it very much continues to be a very fluid situation. Y0u hear something new each day.”
For the first time, we’re starting to hear some ideas that could be problem solvers when it comes to athletes being paid for their likeness on the field. But getting to that point will take time, especially when you throw in television networks and the revenue split. But if anything, this is a great start to the conversation.