There is one area that Florida coach Billy Napier will look to continue evolving in over the next few months until Fall camp, and that’s NIL. Coaches all over the country are playing the NIL hand that they’ve been dealt and competing in a game without many rules to govern them.
Before speaking at an event on Wednesday night, Napier discussed his NIL plan now that spring practice is over.
“Name, image, and likeness. Just to be transparent. That’s the only part of our plan that I think we have to continue to evolve there. And compete in a game that doesn’t have a set of rules right now.”
He’s not wrong. Every state has different rules at the moment when it comes to how NIL can be approached by the coaching staff and universities. We all know that these NIL deals aren’t in place for schools to use as a tool to get a player to sign, that would be inducement. However, many are walking a fine line with it at the moment. And who’s going to stop them?
There’s no enforcement staff sitting out there right now watching these different outside groups put together deals for potential student athletes or players who have entered the transfer portal. What was once a tool for current roster players to make money off their name is now a tool to get a player on campus. It’s almost as if someone flipped the lightbulb switch and figured out a way around the system.
Billy Napier joins Lane Kiffin and other coaches around the country in calling today’s NIL world exactly what it is, free agency. Napier made it a point to say that there is a lack of leadership regarding Name, Image, Likeness.
“As a competitor, you’re looking for parameters, guidelines, what are the rules of engagement? We’re really living in a world here where we have a free agency with no salary cap. No manual. No rule book and a lack of leadership and legislation. We’re all in an adjustment phase here. There’s no question about that.”
What we are seeing is boosters starting to make large donations to a group that handles NIL deals, these groups are usually called ‘Collectives’, because they are collecting money for the war chest needed to pay these NIL deals. They are getting large donations and then able to dish out the money to current athletes in return for advertising or showing up for exclusive events.
Sometimes the money comes as soon as you sign on the dotted line that you’re playing at a school like Florida, Miami or Tennessee, just to name a few. But this is still so very fresh for college coaches and how they should go about being a part of these conversations. But with laws changing, coaches can now participate in fundraisers for these ‘Collectives’ or speak with the folks handling these deals on the outskirts of campus. Coaches can now get in on the action, if your state has approved it, and they are now walking into a whole new world of recruitment.
Just two years ago, Billy Napier and all coaches around the country were scouring high schools in their region, meeting with recruits who had questions about playing time or how they would fit in the system. Now, these coaches can’t go five minutes without NIL being brought up by either high school prospects or transfer portal players.
It’s crazy to think how far we’ve come in just under a year with Name, Image, Likeness. For some coaches, that’s not a good thing. But like Billy Napier said, you better evolve or the train is going to pass you by. Napier knows what he’s doing in Gainesville, so don’t expect him to miss very often.