This week it was reported that a top high school football recruit was granted a release by the University of Florida after signing a binding National Letter of Intent due to a proposed name, image and likeness deal falling apart. Quarterback Jaden Rashada, a high school senior attending Pittsburg High School in the San Francisco Bay Area, allegedly was set to sign a deal worth upwards of $13 million with the Gator Collective and attend Florida.
Supposedly, after the initial offer, Gator Collective deemed the teenager’s NIL value to be less than initially assessed and sought to renegotiate the terms. It has become a common occurrence in the high school and college sports landscape since the June 2021 Supreme Court ruling on the NCAA v Alston case, which determined the NCAA could not legally limit education-related payments to students, notably student athletes. Individual states subsequently instituted NIL rules.
In plain language, the long overdue exercise of student-athletes benefitting from a capitalistic system that makes billions off of their physical ability was unleashed. It changed the business–– and make no mistake, it has always been a business––of recruiting and increased the agency and leverage of athletes. Young men and women could offer financial assistance to their immediate family by earning hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars from endorsement deals, public appearances, and creating products in which they maximize their brand.
But many coaches, particularly college football coaches who run programs that are the highest revenue producer for athletic departments at most major institutions such as the University of Florida, as well as athletic directors and university presidents, are referring to NIL as the Wild West. They are pleading for government intervention, which is code for regulation, as they cannot control the industry. Be mindful that over 1,000 collegiate college basketball and football coaches earn over $1 million annually and 50 make a minimum of $3 million per year. It is the master-slave psychology.
U.S. Senator Tommy Tubberville of Alabama, a former head football coach at Auburn and the University of Mississippi, has been at the forefront of achieving congressional NIL regulation. “I’ve talked to all of my [coaching] buddies, they’ve never seen anything like it,” he said in an interview last summer. “When you don’t have guidelines and direction, no matter what you are doing, you are lost. They are lost right now.”
Tubberville is the epitome of hypocrisy as he is part of the senate minority Republican Party that advocates for deregulation of many major industries so that their greedy, ruthless corporate wealthy donors can operate unfettered in pursuit of billions of dollars in gains for themselves and shareholders.
But as it relates to NIL, the free market is no longer working as it should in the perspective of Tubberville and his cronies because they can’t dictate how student-athletes receive money and how much they are afforded.