Navigating the cloudy, new NIL world in college sports

“Greed, for lack of a better term, is good.”

This quote isn’t from a recent NCAA intercollegiate athletics forum. It’s from the character Gorden Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, in the 1987 movie Wall Street.

However, there was a quote coming from an NCAA meeting last month. NCAA President Mark Emmert, showing just how out-of-touch he is with reality, made the comment, “the university president is the hardest job in America.”


These quotes come to mind – and are very relevant – after six months of the NCAA’s new Name, Image, Likeness rules allowing athletes to make money off their names through the NIL.

Alabama’s Bryce Young was one of the first major beneficiaries of the NIL, signing an endorsement deal with Cash App for north of $800,000 before even taking a snap as the starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide. Other offers put Young’s earnings package at over one million dollars.

That was in the first month.

More recent NIL headlines were courtesy of the foundation Horns with Heart (and Deep Pockets, apparently), who will partner with the University of Texas football program to create “The Pancake Factory” that will give each Longhorns’ offensive linemen $50,000 a year for use of the big guys’ name, image, and likeness to help charitable causes.

Some would argue the football team itself is the chief charitable cause in the Lone Star State’s capitol.

What started as a noble effort by the NCAA to give athletes the chance to earn money through NIL deals has turned into something which tilts the playing field, allowing the rich to get richer.

“I don’t think people really say it this way,” Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin said. “But let’s not make a mistake – we have free agency in college football, and the kids, a lot of times, are going where they get paid the most.”

On a local, scaled-down level, Northwestern State head football coach Brad Laird said NIL has created much more work for the compliance office, not the football staff.

While not aware of the exact number of his Demons who have inked NIL deals, he does have a few and, through conversations with other NSU head coaches, he knows there are other athletes on campus who have taken advantage of the opportunity.

“And that’s a good thing,” said Laird, a former record-breaking passer for the Demons.

What has changed from his seat as it relates to NIL in the last six months?

“In the beginning, as is the case now, there are still a lot of questions which need to be answered,” he said.

Some coaches have suggested the NCAA should limit, or cap, benefits, but Laird isn’t holding his breath on those changes coming anytime soon.

“No, I don’t think there will be any changes to the amount a student can earn,” he said. “There are limits preventing deals involving drugs and alcohol, but as far as putting a limit on the amount a student can get, I don’t foresee that happening.”

Will your favorite college be able to put out the best (name your favorite sport) program money can buy? Time – and boosters willing to pony up – will tell.