With the early signing period now open for college football, there is no question that NIL money is having a major impact on college recruiting. Coaches are being forced to address NIL issues with recruits despite NCAA guidance that says that you can’t use NIL money to recruit a college player. Coaches across the country are having a hard time handling recruits who expect NIL money to be offered to them despite clear rules against it. Unfortunately, the NCAA has provided little guidance, and even less enforcement, leaving coaches and programs wondering what to do when future players attempt to bargain for the best NIL deal. The popular solution, for now, appears to amass a large sum of money in a booster sponsored “collective” so that coaches can rest assured that NIL money will be available should a player sign up to play for the school. While a coach cannot promise a player NIL money, they can point out that the collective has money and is currently paying money to existing players. The more money that collectives can amass, the more money that can be paid to players. Unfortunately, this puts boosters in the middle of the college recruiting process.
For some schools, that is business as usual, but instead of an envelope full of cash, the players can now get checks. The pool of contributors has also grown as more boosters are now willing to contribute money in what appears to be a legal endeavor to pay the players. Whether or not players are being recruited in compliance with NCAA rules is something that we will find out soon enough. The NCAA just needs to gather the muster to enforce the rules they wrote.
Steven J. Thayer, is a Co-Founder of NextName, an online digital platform that sells digital collectibles of college athletes.