May 11, 2021
Why NIL is NBD … (NBD = No Big Deal)
Do you know what NIL stands for? … It stands for Name Image Likeness … the Boogie Man in the NCAAs closet for the past 6-8 years.
It means that College Athletes – lets finally do away with the silly “student athlete” phrase, OK? – would be able to LEGALLY benefit financially from their Name – Image – Likeness while competing as NCAA athletes.
NIL Legalizes the old “$100 Handshake” scam that has been around since Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe were “student athletes” … Boosters slipping a wad of Benjamins into a student athlete’s sweaty hand in the locker room after his valiant efforts defeating “our hated rival”.
The addendum to “$100 Handshakes” were the Fake Summer Jobs scam. BMOC Jock would be hired by Deep-Pocket Booster for an imaginary “summer job” in his company. The jobs were imaginary but the $$$ were real.
With NIL … A UNC Field Hockey coed could “get paid” to be a spokesman for a Franklin Street eatery or the local BMW dealership. An NC State wrestler could shill for Amedeo’s and “get paid” for it. A Duke Laxer could “get paid” if Duke uses his “image” on billboards to sell tickets for Duke Lacrosse. … I could go with these foolish examples.
In addition to appearing in commercial ads, the athletes would be able to “monetize” their social media sites thru whatever ways one does that. Are there enough dorm nerds, board monkeys and skanky coeds with Mandingo fantasies to make that profitable?
What NIL REALLY IS … and has been since Day One … is allowing Black Athletes in Power5 Football and Mens Basketball to legally “get paid in real dollars” …
…. by deep-pocketed boosters for playing for Good Ol’ Alma Mater instead of “Hated Rival”.. The key word is “legally” as many/most Big Time Power5 FB / MBB programs have been doing this “under the table” for many years… i.e. “The $100 Handshakes”.
EXCEPT AT YOUR SCHOOL of course … ’cause Your School is purer than the driven snow … of course.
Sixty years later one cannot talk about the John Wooden Era at UCLA without crediting the notorious Sam Gilbert with his “special benefits” to certain Bruin SuperStars.
Theoretically: Duke won’t have to get Trajan Langdon’s mamma or Carlos Boozer’s parents a cushy job in Durham … or whatever $$$ they finagled for “Zion” to hang out in West Derm for 6 months. … TBD.
Theoretically: NC State / Mark Gottfried won’t have to send WhatsHisName Smith’s father a briefcase full of unmarked non-sequential bills. They can simply pay him that $$$ for some made-up shilling for XYZ product.
Theoretically: NIL has nothing to do with “academic eligibility” scams. FlimFlam Scams on that issue are still “whatever you can get away with” or hire lawyers to obfuscate for you if you are caught.
“NIL” completely Obliterates the concept of bartering “athletic participation” in exchange for “a college education”. No value whatsoever is given to the so-called “education” – LOLOL – that the athlete supposedly receives while playing for WhatZaMatta U. It’s about time.
Since “a college education” now has Zero $$$ Value for college athletes they SHOULD be compensated for the several years they stick around playing football or basketball. Seems only right … right?
In modern day High Academia – especially at Liberal Arts Institutions – it can be debated that non-athletes whose parents actually PAY for their childrens’ so-called education are being short-changed for their investment. But that’s an issue for another day …
Locally … With NIL in effect for the past 20-30+ years … it is easy to imagine a Philip Rivers being a valuable spokesman for a regional company like say Bojangles … or a David Thompson. Or Phil Ford … or Tyler Hansbrough … or Christian Laettner / Grant Hill / JJ Reddick etc.
The Key Factor with each of those “famous” names is that they established themselves early on as “Super Stars” and they stayed around for four years … becoming legitimate celebrities with their respective school’s fan bases.
As I have often noted … I can’t name five basketball players TOTAL at all three Triangle-area schools over the past five years. Certainly more avid fans than I am can easily do so… but NOT like “in the old days”.
Circa 2021 … The Power5 athletes with legitimate Name – Image – Likeness Value simply do not stick around any “college” long enough to have NIL Value.
IMO… The ONLY area college athlete – today – that “might” have any NIL market value would be UNC’s Sam Howell.
Would non-UNC fans be likely to visit Zaxby’s if Sam Howell in on TV or billboards hyping their Tater Tots ???
Also: Pro athletes and Pro franchises have National Fan Bases … some, of course, more so than others – NYY – RedSox- Cowboys – Patriots – Packers – Lakers. Ergo, pro athletes’ celebrity value is much higher. College athletes and college teams – with a small handful of exceptions – have a much more limited fan base to influence. By the time a college athlete gains national fame … he’s going pro.
Would – for example – Big UNC Booster Eddie Smith use a UNC athlete to promote his Grady-White Boats when it could cost him sales to “hated rival” fans?
OF COURSE … if NIL is put into effect Every School recruiting 4-5 stars will create $$$ opportunities to sweeten the pot. If a limit is put into the NIL Rule … the more “competitive” programs will “creatively” circumvent the rules as they have done for years.
Will “the shoe companies” be able to offer mega-$$$ deals to Super 5-Stars like “Zion” while he is in school? Probably but that will only apply to the Very Very Super Recruit sure to be a One-Done.
Nothing short of public executions of overly-aggressive boosters will ever stop “cheating in recruiting”. NIL might simply raise the ante a few $$$.
“NIL” is not going to change the Balance of Power in Power5 FB / MBB one iota. One/Dones will not stick around any longer. The HaveNot Enoughs will not attract any more 4-5 Stars than the occasional ones they already get.
There will be lots of Yada Yada about Title IX and NIL because there always is Yada Yada about Title IX.
Those old worn-out stories of players “not able to afford a pizza” with his friends on Friday night … or “can’t afford a bus ticket home to Granny’s funeral” were all bogus crap back then … and are now.
In conclusion … I still maintain that IF – an Impossible IF – the athletes were indeed getting a For-Real “College Education” in exchange for their on-field/court efforts then it WOULD BE a Fair Barter Deal.
But THAT isn’t gonna happen … sigh.
LOTS of Great Reader Comments on our last column ….
Much appreciated! … Check’em Out!