The name, image and likeness era has changed the landscape of college athletics.
With players now able to profit from their name, athletes are basing decisions on where to play at least partly on how much money they stand to make during their college careers.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban, who has been a proponent of college athletes earning compensation, has made it clear he sees flaws in the current NIL system.
“The issue is, when you create those [collectives] for people, are you establishing a pay-for-play type of environment that can be used in recruiting? So now, all the sudden, guys are not going to school where they can create the most value for their future,” Saban told Sports Illustrated. “Guys are going to school where they can make the most money. I don’t think that is even the best thing for the player.”
NIL collectives pool money from boosters and businesses and help facilitate NIL deals for athletes.
“You went to college. I went to college,” Saban added. “Why were we going? We had goals and aspirations for how we wanted to create value for our future. Sometimes these things can be a distraction academically as well as athletically. But I’ll say it again: I think name, image and likeness is good for players.
“The whole concept of collectives is what has created this environment that we are in, and I’m not sure that anybody really had the insight or the vision to see that was going to happen. So, therefore, we had no guidelines, and now we’re trying to develop some.”
NIL collectives created a recent controversy in college football with the University of Florida and four-star recruit Jaden Rashada.
In November, Rashada switched his commitment from Miami to Florida, giving head coach Billy Napier a significant recruit as Napier enters his second season.
But Rashada’s commitment was contingent on a four-year, $13 million NIL deal he signed with the Gator Collective fan club, according to The Associated Press.
On Dec. 7, Rashada reportedly received a letter from the head of Gator Collective that wished to terminate the deal, according to a report from The Athletic.
While the reasons behind the deal falling apart were unclear, the AP reported that not all the financial backers were aware that the NIL deal had gone from around $5 million to more than $13 million.
Rashada was released from his NIL in January and committed to Arizona State University.
When asked for a solution to the issues NIL presents, Saban told Sports Illustrated it may need to be addressed at the federal level so that “you don’t have different state laws and there are guidelines for what you can and can’t do.”
“Players should create their opportunities, and what we’ve done now is some schools are creating opportunities for them. I don’t think that was the intent,” Saban told SI.
In August, U.S. senators Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced their intention to draft legislation regulating NIL.
Saban, who reportedly has close relationships with both senators, said he speaks with both politicians occasionally about their legislative effort.
“I talk to them on occasion, but I’m not trying to spearhead a solution. I talk to [SEC Commissioner] Greg Sankey a lot,” Saban said. “I talk to [SEC Associate Commissioner] William King. I hear the other coaches in our meetings. I’m just trying to help provide information to [the senators] so they know what the issues really are. I’m trying to also direct them to people I think can input the solution, like Greg Sankey and those kinds of people.
“Everybody needs to look at the issue from 1,000 feet. I don’t want to take opportunities away from players. I just think the mechanisms around how they get those opportunities need to be more standard for everyone.”