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Opinion: Boost or Blemish—the NIL is Here to Stay

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Name, Image, and Likeness—or NIL for short. It’s what’s causing a crisis within the college sports world, this time. On Monday, the NCAA released new guidance for it’s NIL policy regarding third-party involvement. It was more of a reiteration. 

In simple words, “boosters” are not allowed to speak with prospective student-athletes or those close to them about NIL for recruiting purposes. Boosters include any person, agency, or corporation that helps fund a university’s athletic program or creates NIL opportunities.

College athletes across the country have been able to collect payment for their association since July 1st, 2021. 

This is excellent for the players no doubt. Universities have been making sizable profits from the success of collegiate athletics—certainly in the modern era of the NCAA’s existence. Though the schools were “officially” never able to profit directly based on a student-athlete’s NIL, it’s only right that the actual athletes training, studying and performing are able to monetize their God given talents and hard work. 

However—many universities, conferences, coaches, fans, and others involved with college sports have voiced their concern about NIL reaching a crucial boiling point.

The point in focus being some institutions and donors turning NIL recruiting into the Wild West where anything goes. 

Upon the NIL policy’s introduction, the NCAA backed the statement of Division II Presidents Council chair, Sandra Jordan, Chancellor at the University of South Carolina Aiken: “The new [original] policy preserves the fact college sports are not pay-for-play… It also reinforces key principles of fairness and integrity across the NCAA and maintains rules prohibiting improper recruiting inducements.”

Universities are forbidden to pay athletes to play for them. That is what’s known as  “pay-for-play”. Yet, since the introduction of NIL, some have inched pretty darn close to pay-for-play as most boosters have inside ties with the universities and their staffs.

NIL was originally supposed to be a way for college athletes to make a quick buck from signing autographs, selling t-shirts, or doing commercials. But have things gotten out of hand or are the naysayers & haters standing in the way of the progress of students’ rights?

Boosters have been forming “collectives” to entice top players with NIL packages that include vehicles and thousands to millions of dollars—all before they have even committed. 

But is this model a step towards fair & wide open competition? Most schools in the FBS division simply won’t be able to compete. It’s yet to be seen wether NIL will fully widen the gap amongst P5 and G5 school’s recruiting. It could possibly even stretch the distance between P5 schools themselves.

San Diego State has shown financial might in the Southern California region when the school overwhelmingly won a rightful voter decision to build a brand new state-of-the-art football facility in the heart of the city. The campus expansion along with the stadium and river park being constructed is sure to gain a much-needed rise in revenue for the school. The many additional civic uses the stadium will feature also will rake in more profits to the universities budget.

The idea of the stadium and decision to build it was one thing, but the financial investment to actually get it done is another. Despite a global pandemic, SDSU and its fundraising arm have proven to stand on solid footing as the new Snapdragon Stadium is set to open this year, on September 3, when the Aztecs host the Wildcats of Arizona.

So with all of the apparent growth happening within the industry of college athletics, are booster-generated NIL packages truly a blemish to college sports? Student-athletes are now earning, big or small, extra revenues that don’t come from the university budgets. All it takes is one booster with extremely deep pockets who is willing to pay all the top-level transfers and incoming freshmen for their program of choice to become THE powerhouse in college sports. Or so that’s the case in theory when you’re contemplating a paying system for players with no salary cap. 

This is the first offseason coaches are dealing with NIL and recruiting, while the NCAA hopes to slow down the madness. But it’s clear that this is only a temporary fix. Collectives will stay within the NIL scene and work with players who are already enrolled. Dollar figures of these collectives become public after one season and they won’t have to interact with the incoming recruits. The numbers will speak for themselves and universities with the most financially sound collective groups will come out on top. 

As much as some see collectives as sore spots and widening the gap among universities, they’re not going anywhere. Schools will need collectives and those that don’t catch on will only fall behind.  Whispers around the Mesa are saying that an SDSU collective may be formed soon to financially help players once they suit up as an Aztec.

As for us the Sons of Montezuma, we’ve already hit the ground running when last season we became the first San Diego based company to offer student-athletes their own apparel NIL agreement. Both Greg Bell and Matt Araiza paved the way for this season’s Jesse Matthews and Cooper & Caden McDonald. Could there be more on the way? That’s one question we can answer emphatically—YES! Go Aztecs!

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