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Ricky Williams was a legend for the Texas Longhorns and remains a college football icon.
He was a Heisman Trophy winner. A Maxwell winner. He set 21 NCAA records, 46 school records, led the nation in rushing back-to-back years and was inducted into the Texas Hall of Fame in 2013.
If anyone would have benefited from the NIL, it was Ricky Williams.
Now, two decades removed from his time in Austin, the former first round pick has an idea of how he would’ve handled it.
“If I did it, I think the money should go in a trust that comes to the player once they graduate,” Williams said on the My Other Passion podcast earlier this week.
“I think of that just to honor the nature of college. I don’t think the players should be exploited, but I also don’t think an opportunity to get an education should be taken advantage of or exploited.”
What’s the future of college football?
Williams went on to call the NIL movement “revolutionary” and the “most interesting” shift in sports business. He also admitted he worries how the money could affect a player’s “love of the game.”
“When I was coming up, the joke was, the star player drives up in a fancy car and now all the players are driving up in fancy cars,” Williams continued.
“Now, the biggest taboo in all of sports is becoming the norm. It seems somewhat unregulated. It’s amazing to me. I’m curious about the long term effects of this to amateur sports.”
Between NIL and the transfer portal, the college football landscape is rapidly changing. Some conferences are expanding, others are dying, and TV deals are exploding.
This new era of college football, Williams said, is unrecognizable to the one he grew up in.
“I’m just afraid, with the transfer portal and NIL deals, college sports … it’s pretty much already become professional sports,” he added. “I think you’re going to lose the love of the game and the appreciation of a college education.”