College athletes have been able to benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL) for two years, but it’s an ongoing journey toward the perfect system.
Some, like Olivia Dunne and the Cavinder twins, have earned seven figures based on their looks, while others treat it like professional sports: where they’ll earn the most is where they’ll go.
In the eyes of Lane Kiffin, the latter is the most popular use of NIL, or as Kiffin called it, «pay to play».
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«When this first came out, I basically said that any show that has the most aggressive drivers with the most money is going to attract the players,» Lane Kiffin said in SEC Media Days on Thursday. «And now we’re adding some states where you don’t have to follow the NCAA, and now the university can take their money and give it to the collective to give it to the players.»
«This is a looming disaster because you just legalized cheating, and you just told donors they can pay players, that’s what you did.»
The Ole Miss football head coach also noted that players are understandably taking advantage of every negotiating period they can.
«Now we’re seeing that you can really get paid three times if you want to,» Kiffin said. «They can pay you out of high school. You can transfer one time, get in, get the most money, and get paid again. And then you can transfer to graduate and then get paid again. Eventually, you won’t be able to do that, I think, and you’ll have that leverage every semester to be able to do it. I told them it’s a wonderful time for them.»
«With NIL, you pay a lot to play, and that’s what it is,» Kiffin said. «Those two things combined, there’s no set system. I don’t think there’s any other sport at any level that’s like that, that really, every year, you can opt into free agency. Really, twice a year.»
Kiffin shared a Fox News Digital story last year on his Twitter account regarding Alabama head coach Nick Saban allegedly letting a top recruit and one of his own players go after they asked for more than a combined $1 million from the school.
«Someone with one of the best corners in the nation [in high school] he came to me and asked if we would pay them $800,000 to have the player sign here. I told him he can find another place to play,» Saban said, according to Baker High School Coach Steve Normand. «I’m not going to pay a kid a bunch of NIL before she earns it.»
“One of them wanted $500,000 and for us to enroll his girlfriend in Alabama law school and pay for it. I showed him the door,» Saban said.
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Saban, LSU’s Brian Kelly and SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey even traveled to Washington, DC, to advocate for federal assistance in regulating how college athletes can make money off their fame. Kelly said college athletics was at a crossroads if NIL «doesn’t get fixed.»