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When the NCAA adopted its “interim” rules on NIL in July of 2021, the landscape of collegiate athletics changed forever. Now, a year and a half later, the relatively new legislature is causing significant issues that everybody should have seen coming.
Don’t get me wrong — Name, Image and Likeness is awesome. Allowing players who were previously shackled under the guise of “amateurism” to profit from their worth is a great thing. A lot of good is being done through NIL.
That doesn’t mean that the bad doesn’t exist. It is rather significant.
There are a lot of issues with NIL that will need to be figured out. Finding a solution to the problems is above my pay grade, though those in charge continue to prove incompetent and/or ignorant in doing so.
As a result, there is this “new normal.” College basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla recently spoke to that reality and shared worrisome, but entirely unsurprising, concerns that have bubbled to the surface.
What Fraschilla said about the problems stemming from NIL could have been foreseen. It is not earth-shattering news by any means— it wasn’t even really news. This was always going to be the case and we have known it to be the case since last summer.
By allowing athletes to profit from NIL, it has created a free market.
Where payments used to be exchanged under the table, they are being made out in the open. Athletes know what their teammates are getting paid. They know what deals are being signed where.
It creates jealousy when an athlete is being out-earned by any margin, let alone a significant one. A star point guard at Duke is going to make more money than the backup center. He is also going to make a lot more money than player of the same position at, say, Tulsa.
Additionally, NIL skews the playing field in terms of recruiting and opportunity. More and more athletes are seeking the most financial opportunity— can you blame them?
However, at the same time, that creates underlying issues.
Many athletes, whether they will admit it or not, are choosing their school based on NIL opportunities. There is a larger bidding war that is taking place behind the scenes.
When payments aren’t met on time as promised, or the money simply isn’t there, doubt and questions start to arise. At what point does an athlete start to look elsewhere?
Another school’s collectives and/or boosters might have the financial means to get payments out on time and in full. Why not go there?
A teammate may be making more money than different athlete on the same team. If the “other” athlete transfers to another school, it may provide opportunity for a larger NIL portfolio. Why not go there?
This is where that “cracking” Fraschilla mentions comes into play. Money is involved in college basketball more than ever. It is no longer an amateur sport, though it never really was.
The only question now is how far those cracks will go.
If a program (through its boosters/collectives) is unable to secure NIL payments on time, starters may choose to leave. At the same time, if a backup is not seeing as much money as he would like, he may choose to go get that money elsewhere. That decision would leave a void at his original program, which then may not be able to be filled with equal talent because of a lack of proper financial backing.
Once it is filled with a new athlete, the program from where that player left has a hole to fill, and so on and so forth. It is a continuous cycle that never stops.
The ripple effect is very real and NIL has created quite the splash. All we can do now is wait and see how this “new normal” plays out.