NIL deals shaping the future of recruiting and the transfer portal

There has long been a debate on whether collegiate athletes should have the opportunity to be imbursed for the attention and revenue they help bring their colleges/universities. On Jul. 1st, 2021, the NCAA adopted a policy that allowed all Division I, II and III competitors to receive compensation for their name, image and likeness.

“By July, all our athletes should be provided NIL opportunities regardless of the state they happen to live in,” said NCAA President Mark Emmert.

As soon as the clock struck midnight, Jacksonville State defensive linemen Antwan Owens became the nation’s first athlete to sign a NIL deal. He signed a sponsorship deal with Three Kings Grooming, a black-owned barbershop. 

With players now being allowed, many athletes signed deals with various companies and organizations across all sports. The contracts ranged from local businesses like a chicken shop to national brands like Gatorade and Nike.

“The number one high school prospect in the 2022 class, QB Quinn Ewers, skipped his senior year of high school to cash in on NIL deals. His largest being a whopping $1.4 million over three years to provide autographs for GT Sports Marketing.” 

This massive range in deals has caused many to question whether collegiate sports is becoming more about money than the love of the sport.

“What we are going to see happen is that bigger colleges with winning histories are going to use NIL to their advantage,” said Mike Hughes of Journal Enterprise.

High school prospects who will already have their eyes set on the most successful programs will also draw into profitable off-the-field opportunities granted by these prestigious schools.

The reach of the new NIL policy doesn’t stop at the high school level, as athletes in the college transfer portal are also eligible for deals. The NCAA created the transfer portal in 2018 to manage athletes who plan to change the institution they’re playing for.

Since 2018 there has been a constant influx of athletes entering their name into the transfer portal and transferring to various programs. The system has gotten backlash from several within collegiate sports and the higher-ups in the NCAA.

Ole Miss Football Head Coach Lane Kiffin had a strong opinion on athletes entering the portal, “They’re not being advised very well. You have thousands of kids going into the portal, but there are not thousands of spots for people to take.”

Initially, a player will enter the transfer portal for various reasons: a coaching change, not enough playing time or wanting a change of scenery. Recently, there has been speculation that coaches rely on the NIL money as a recruiting attraction for possible prospects or catapult them into the vaunted number one recruiting class.

“We never cheated to get a player. We never paid players to come to our school,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said on the speculation of NIL used as a recruiting ploy. “And now that’s happening. People are making deals with high school players to go to their school.”

The NCCA maintains its stature and will likely adhere to coaches’ and executives’ suggestions on the NIL policy and transfer portal. There potentially could be changes in the NIL policy to combat the inevitable increase in the amount of money these athletes can make.