What is all this NIL talk about, and why should you care at all? Does it matter to Indiana? It sure does. Big time.
Let’s take a look at NIL and see what it’s all about because it is the biggest buzz around NCAA sports right now. NIL is the NCAA’s seemingly reluctant decision to allow student-athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness, thus the name NIL. The decision allows NCAA student-athletes the opportunity to profit from their ‘fame’, such as it is.
In other words, when Kevin ‘Yogi’ Ferrell was playing at Indiana, he could have been making some money doing commercials, ads, promotions, etc. for one of Bloomington’s favorite places to feed your face, Yogi’s. It would have been a perfect fit.
Sure, he is getting paid in the NBA now, but he should have been able to make some money during his time at IU as well. It only makes sense. The NCAA and the universities have been making millions upon millions on the backs of these athletes for decades. It’s about time that the players get a piece of the pie. They are the ones that put in all the hours of hard work, they deserve some of the fruit of their labor. Now, with the NCAA’s reactionary ruling, student-athletes can do just that.
The NCAA really had their hand forced as several states enacted their own legislation making it legal for student-athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness. As the states, one by one, passed their bills, it became evident that the NCAA had to act, and fast, because to not do so was going to ruin college athletics as we know them.
Had the NCAA not acted, recruiting would have been drastically affected as student-athletes flocked to colleges and universities in NIL states, and away from the ones where NIL legislation had not yet been passed. This outcome would have un-leveled the playing field severely. It just couldn’t happen. So, the NCAA finally acted. It had no choice. It’s sad that it took having their hand forced to do it, but at least it’s done.
Now the NCAA, university compliance departments, and student-athletes must figure out how to make this thing work. I am confident that they will, but let’s not pretend it’s going to go without hiccups. There are almost certainly going to be some bumps along the road. This is going to be a really difficult thing to regulate; it really is. And if it is not regulated, it could completely ruin NCAA sports. Players are now going to be making their decision about where to attend school based upon where they can make the most money. There is just no way around that.
Indiana will be fine. The Hoosier basketball program, even with its recent struggles, is a behemoth. It has a national brand, one of the biggest alumni bases in the country, and a massive Twitter following. Indiana players get a lot of exposure. And the Kelley School of Business ensures that there is a lot of Indiana grads in the marketplace. That spells opportunity for Indiana student-athletes. And Indiana’s basketball players are excited about it. A quick perusal of social media will show you that.
It’s the smaller schools that I worry about. Some schools are just in a better market, period. And who will be able to blame players for wanting to go where they stand to profit the most. We adults, when we are job hunting, tend to do the same thing.
Thankfully, the athletic department at Indiana has been out ahead on this, working to prepare itself for NIL’s eventual arrival. The state of Indiana is not one of the states which has passed NIL legislation, but Indiana University itself saw the handwriting on the wall and began to prepare for this eventual outcome. Thus, Indiana should be in good shape as it makes this transition.
I’m sure you will find a thousand articles out there that will break this topic down to its finest detail, but I want to look at it from a little different perspective. I want to look at how this latest change to college basketball will change it where we care about it most—on the court.
Is this rule going to make a noticeably big difference for a guy like Trayce Jackson Davis? I doubt it. He is definitely going to make some money this season. Will it affect his performance in practice or on the court? I can’t imagine it will. Trayce is playing with an eye on a big payday, hoping to solidify himself as a first-round NBA draft pick. NIL isn’t going to change that. Trayce has a lot to play for regardless.
But what about the other Hoosiers? How will it affect them? How will this impact the guys and gals that, as the NCAA commercial says, will go professional in something other than sports? How will this ruling affect guys on the Indiana roster that aren’t NBA bound?
I can see it going one of two ways in most scenarios:
1) Players begin to get more selfish and began seeking stats more than collective team goals and aspirations. This is already a problem on some teams, but it has the chance of getting worse.
After all, the bigger name you make for yourself, the better chances you have of making some money! This could potentially have a detrimental effect on team chemistry and gameplay. This would be the worst-case scenario.
2) Players who have no illusions of making it into the NBA understand that this is their shot to cash in, and they buckle down and go to work to build themselves into a player that local companies are interested in. Perhaps it boosts their work ethic and preparation, and the unintended effect is improved player performance. This would be the best-case scenario.
Whichever way that putt breaks, I believe this decision, while merited, is almost undoubtedly going to have a significant effect on college basketball. Will it help it or hurt it? That remains to be seen. But at least the players now have a seat at the money-making table. It was long overdue.