Since Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) went into effect on July 1st, 2021, the college sports landscape has experienced change and confusion more dramatic than even conference realignment.
A month earlier, on June 21st, 2021, the Supreme Court obliterated the NCAA’s mafia-like hold on college athlete compensation by ruling the organization violated antitrust law.
“The NCAA is not above the law,” wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh at the time. “The NCAA couches its arguments for not paying student athletes in innocuous labels. But the labels cannot disguise the reality: The NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.”
At that moment, athletes celebrated while coaches seethed for it was a shift in the balance of power towards the former.
No longer would college athletes have to bow down to powerful programs and coaches; now athletes have more influence in determining their futures and dictating their paths by leveraging their NIL potential.
And that has infuriated many coaches, especially football coaches like the all-mighty Nick Saban.
Saban vs NIL
“That [NIL] creates a situation where you can basically buy players,” said Saban last year. “You can do it in recruiting. I mean, if that’s what we want college football to be, I don’t know. And you can also get players to get in the transfer portal to see if they can get more someplace else than they can get at your place.”
Now, we all know recruiting has always been a system of buying players. That’s exactly why big college programs are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new stadiums, practice facilities and locker rooms.
But Saban took it personally, even accusing Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher and former Jackson St. head coach Deion Sanders of buying players.
Saban has vehemently attacked NIL because it’s an unregulated system that has taken the college sports industry by storm. And to be fair, he supports college athletes being paid, but he wants it more uniform instead of varying by individual states.
“If it’s going to be the same for everyone, I think that’s better than what we have now,” said Saban about NIL being regulated federally. “Because what we have now is we have some states and some schools in some states that are investing a lot more money in terms of managing their roster than others.”
Yet one of the highest-paid head coaches in all of sports attacking a system of player compensation seems hypocritical.
This content has been brought to you by First and Pen in partnership with TheHub.News. First and Pen “amplifies local sports stories from voices of color to the national conscience…”