Lane Kiffin Says NIL Success Requires ‘Really Good Boosters’ To Keep Up With Payroll

ATLANTA — We are living in a new age of College Athletics and Lane Kiffin has been at the forefront of calling it like it is. The conversation revolving around football and basketball has mostly centered around NIL, which has taken over the recruiting process that some of these schools partake in.

But, if there is one coach who hasn’t shied away from the truth, it’s Kiffin.

Speaking at the first day of SEC Media Days, Kiffin had lots to say about the NIL during his time at the podium. We all know that the Name, Image and Likeness conversation has been one of the main talking points of the offseason when it comes to College Football, something he has done with a bullhorn.

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When asked about what it will take to to be successful with NIL in College Football, Kiffin said it all comes down to the boosters within the program.

“Well, the first question is the keys to NIL and how do you well with that. You have really good boosters. That’s how you do well at it. I’ll say what other people say, as you know.”

But that wasn’t the end to what Kiffin thought NIL has turned into, bringing up a MLB payroll as an example of how this will play out in the longterm and what this looks like now to some coaches around the country. Lane is just the one saying it out loud.

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“It’s like a payroll in baseball. What teams win over a long period of time? Teams that have high payrolls and can pay players a lot. We’re in a situation not any different than that. I’m sure other people said it. I said day one, you legalize cheating, so get ready for the people that have the most money to get players. Now you have it. It is what it is.”

The coaches role in discussing NIL or handling it is a bit murky, but Lane thinks that coaches should be a part of the process of deciding where some of the NIL funds end up.

It also comes down to a glaring problem of what does a coach do when a player is being paid a huge amount of money to play at that school. How does the coach separate the money from the talent, which will cause problems for schools all over, especially with boosters thinking they should have a say into who plays.

“Ideally I would think that the coach should be part of managing that. That’s how you’d want it done. But I don’t know if it will be that way or whatever. So that’s just how I would do it. That’s based off of look what happens in professional sports. There’s salary caps. The coach and the general manager/owner manage that.

“The other thing about that, too, if it’s not, say, Okay, why would you put it that way when coaches aren’t supposed to be involved in that?”, Kiffin added. “You have a whole other set of problems. If you have boosters out there deciding who they’re going to pay to come play, and the coach isn’t involved in it, how does that work? They could go pick who they want, pay him however much. Are the boosters going to tell you who to play, too? When they don’t play, how is that going to work out?

But there are certain aspects of College Football that need to be managed in different ways, outside of what the head coach can. Kiffin was quick to point out that these coaches aren’t allowed to handle certain parts of NIL, which Lane ended on today in Atlanta.

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“As far as a general manager to manage that, we aren’t allowed in the current system to manage what they make. We’re not there yet. I don’t know that we ever will be. That’s just what I said it should be because that’s what any other professional sport, which is what we are now, does.”

If there is any coach in the SEC that will talk about the problems with NIL or what it actually is, Lane Kiffin will most certainly be at the forefront.

Stay tuned for more coverage of SEC Media Days in Atlanta.


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Written by Trey Wallace

Wallace started covering the SEC in 2012, as the conference landscape was beginning to change. Prior to his time in Knoxville, Wallace worked in Nashville for The Read Optional, where he first produced content that garnered national attention. His passion for sports is evident in his work and has led him to break some of college football’s biggest stories. His social media reach and natural podcast proficiency continue to make Wallace one of SEC’s most trusted sources.

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