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In today’s changing landscape of college football, terms like “tampering,” “inducements” and “over the table” have become common themes around the sport. But looking at where we are in terms of regulation in football, not much has really changed.
These terms aren’t new to the sport, but they are starting to gain traction again. The days of dropping off bags to recruits are long gone, and discussing a potential transfer with a player has been going on since the portal arrived. The reason that all of this is starting to make headlines again is because there is no way to regulate it.
Over the past few days, Pittsburgh has been in the news because of WR Jordan Addison, who has been linked to a USC transfer. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi reportedly reached out to new USC head coach Lincoln Riley to express his displeasure that USC had made contact with one of his players. But why are we making a big deal out of this now? Most likely because of the money that’s being thrown around in college football due to NIL. But tampering has been going on for a while, and every coach in the country knows it.
Technically, anyone working in an official capacity at a school isn’t allowed to make contact with a current Power Five player at another school unless that player has already entered his name into the transfer portal. However, there are ways for schools to get around the rule, like having a former high school teammate or competitor reach out to a player about transferring. High school coaches have become middlemen for players looking for a change in scenery.
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But none of this should be shocking to anyone involved in the sport. This kind of stuff has been occurring for decades. It’s hard to scream at one school for doing something, knowing most likely the school that is yelling has taken part in the same type of communication.
So how will the NCAA regulate this rule? Most likely, they can’t. How can they punish a player on a current roster for calling one of his buddies and telling him to come play at another school? Good luck trying. The backchannels exist between 7v7 coaches, high school coaches and hometown trainers, which is how teams get around the tampering rule. It’s funny, we don’t hear coaches make a fuss about it until someone comes after their star player, then all hell breaks loose. But with the current format of NIL, expect this to continue until some type of rule is put in place.
Aside from tampering, inducements is the another area of college football that is never going away. Inducements come in the form of NIL deals that include having a player represent a company on social media or make appearances at a camp.
One unnamed Power Five coach had plenty to say about these inducements.
“We’ve spent the last thirty years doing this in the darkness of night or under the table, but now they are worried about a player signing with a school because of money? Come on, not a damn thing has changed, it’s just legal now. Just call it what it is.”
This coach is right, especially given how a booster’s involvement with the school has shifted from donating money to a university, to now putting it towards a player signing with his favorite school. There are so many different avenues for a player to make money now that it has far exceeded what a player would’ve made three years ago “under the table.” The players deserve to be paid, don’t misunderstand me. There just isn’t anything shocking about what’s going on, besides the money figures being thrown out.
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Kentucky Director of Player Development, TJ Beisner, put out a statement on social media Tuesday morning that declared the Wildcats will not guarantee money as an inducement.
“Our basketball program has and continues to be ahead of everyone else. I know. I have these conversations with recruits and other schools. We just don’t flaunt it on social media…BECAUSE WE DONT NEED TO. It’s Kentucky! The biggest stage FOR EVERYTHING!.
“Cal hired me – a non-coach – to his coaching staff for this very reason,” Beisner added. “And we have done better than everyone. But we will not guarantee money as an inducement. To anyone. Ever. Period. Because we don’t need to. And we haven’t missed out on anyone because of that.”
Beisner went on to proclaim that Kentucky will only deal with players who share the same vision. A program like Kentucky doesn’t need to offer inducements because players signing with Calipari already know that NIL opportunities will follow.
Through all of the noise over the past few months, I still wonder what type of impact this will all have on school donations. Most universities have you make a donation to the program that grants you access to purchase season tickets for different sports. I don’t see much of that changing, but it’s the booster donations that might worry athletic officials moving forward. If a big time booster decides to start spending his money on NIL and players, the athletic department will start wondering where those yearly contributions went.
Don’t expect much to change over the next few months as the 2022 season arrives and the recruiting cycle heats up. We are living in a new world of college football, but only because it’s out in the open. Tampering will continue to happen, and unless you start wiretapping players’ phones, you most likely won’t catch them. As for inducements, as long as they can be done over the table, don’t expect much to change. The only difference now is that these coaches are being frequently asked about it without hesitation.
‘Show Me The Money!’