It has been less than two weeks since The Athletic reported that a five-star high school football player has signed a name, image and likeness contract with a collective that could pay him $8 million by the end of his junior year. That’s a clear indication the limits for NIL deals — $8 million for a high school athlete! — are still tough to define.
“If there is ever a time for the NCAA to go after a recruiting inducement, this would be the one,” said Mit Winter, a high-profile collegiate sports attorney based in Kansas City, Missouri.
The I-word, inducement, has been the biggest concern of college coaches and administrators everywhere since the NIL era started last July 1. Since then, what is and isn’t an inducement — defined as a cash offer to play at a school — has been the main talking point in the NIL space.
Inducements are hard to delineate. What used to be under-the-table illicit payments are now, well, above the table and almost completely allowed. Stymied by the courts and its own inaction, the NCAA last summer issued an interim one-page NIL policy that was the equivalent of a toothpick house in the face of a hurricane.
Enter the Wild, Wild West of that NIL era, which turns nine months old on April 1.
“[NIL deals are] really blowing up the interim policy, brick-by-brick,” said Tom McMillen, CEO of Lead1 Association, the professional organization of FBS athletic directors.
He called the interim policy a “dead letter law”, a rule that doesn’t exist unless it is applied.
“If you try to enforce a law that hasn’t been enforced and is routinely violated … it becomes harder and harder to put the genie back in the bottle,” McMillen added.
What skeptics are finding hard to believe is that the $8 million contract, the…