The NIL has completely turned college sports on on its head as athletes are being paid for their name, image, and likeness.
But it’s sort of taken a life of its own, as boosters and programs are finding unique ways to pay the athletes.
With that said, it sounds like some schools in the SEC are taking advantage of a NIL loophole that could cause problems for the NCAA.
According to Sports Illustrated, some teams in the SEC are using “state lawmakers to feverishly rewrite statutes to give them an advantage over neighboring programs.”
Here is a quick example regarding the situation, per Sports Illustrated.
In the state of Missouri, a high school athlete who signs with an in-state college, such as the University of Missouri, can begin earning compensation for his or her name, image and likeness before enrolling at the school.
With that said, not every state with SEC programs is able to utilize this loophole right now. For example, any Florida based schools would violate NCAA rules if they followed suit.
Walker Jones, an executive director of the Ole Miss collective, The Grove, believes the SEC is causing problems for it’s own conference, and college football in general.
“Right now, we’re in no man’s land. If you are the SEC office and you’ve got 14 schools and three are operating this way, it’s a competitive problem.”
It’s a rather sticky situation as it feels like we’re in the wild wild west for NIL deals.
Julie Sommer, an attorney and expert on NIL matters whose mission is to defend academic integrity at universities views this loophole similarly as a “rigged marketplace.”
Here’s her full quote on the subject, per Sports Illustrated. “It reminds me of a rigged marketplace. Federally funded institutions running these enterprises for private gain? The first big question is, what’s the IRS going to do?”
To put this situation in simpler terms, some SEC programs are using fundraisers and other ways to indirectly pay incoming athletes before they even start attending the school.
Sports Illustrated provides some examples of how the SEC is taking advantage of this NIL loophole.
“Collectives differ in style. Some are offering a tax deduction as non-profits specializing in large scale gifts; others are for-profit shops using a subscription-based model for modest monthly giving. Several offer both.”
Additionally, the athletes don’t have to do too much either. “Athletes supply deliverables in an assortment of ways. [Some] as little as posting a monthly endorsement tweet or carrying out a video chat with donors, to as much as attending autograph signings or performing charitable work.”
As you can see, it’s a bit of a mess. An anonymous SEC athletic director compares the situation to money laundering, via Sports Illustrated.
“One SEC athletic director describes the situation in blunt terms: ‘Let’s be honest, we are all money laundering.'”
Maybe the NCAA will try and crack down on what’s going on in the SEC. But for now, some of these programs are making sure they have the competitive edge in recruiting.