Ole Miss HC Lane Kiffin on NIL Deals Impacting CFB: ‘It’s Professional Sports’ | Bleacher Report

AP Photo/Wade Payne

Ole Miss head football coach Lane
Kiffin, who spent two years coaching the NFL’s Oakland
Raiders, said the arrival of name, image and likeness (NIL) deals has
made NCAA recruiting no different than pro leagues’ free agency.

Kiffin was asked about his NIL discussions with recruits Friday during an appearance on The
Rich Eisen Show
(5:10 mark of video).

“It’s professional sports,” he
said. “It’s no different than an agent with a free agent saying, ‘OK, we have this from the Raiders, but we’ll come to you with the
Falcons if you match it.'”

Kiffin is the latest high-profile coach
to speak out about the direction of college sports in the NIL era,
which began in June when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the NCAA could
not prevent certain payments to student-athletes.

Last week, Clemson’s Dabo Swinney told
ESPN’s Chris Low he isn’t against the idea of allowing players to
profit off NIL opportunities during the college careers, but he
feared a “pay-for-play” system was starting to emerge:

“I am against anything that
devalues education. That’s what I’m against. I am for anything that
incentivizes education. People will come after me because I’ve always
said that I’m against the professionalism of college athletics, and I
am. Kids don’t know what they don’t know. That’s a slippery slope if
you professionalize college athletics, and now you’ve got salaries
and taxes and you can fire kids on the spot and they’ve got to pay
for their tuition and they pay for their housing and everything else.
Athletic directors would sign up for that in a heartbeat. They’d save

Alabama’s Nick Saban followed suit
Wednesday, telling the Associated Press’ Ralph D. Russo what’s going
on isn’t a “sustainable model” for college sports:

“But that creates a situation where
you can basically buy players. You can do it in
recruiting. I mean, if that’s what we want college football to be,
I don’t know. And you can also get players to get in the transfer
portal to see if they can get more someplace else than they can get
at your place.”

Saban added Crimson Tide players
probably ranked at or near the top of NIL earnings in 2021, and he’s
confident his program would continue to thrive regardless of the
rules, but he’s worried about the college football landscape as a

Having any semblance of balance in
college sports has long relied on players making a choice between
prestige and opportunity. Some recruits were willing to wait their
turn at Alabama, while others wanted a quicker path to playing time and
would go elsewhere.

If it becomes a simple case of the
highest financial offer wins, that trickle-down effect allowing other
programs a shot at high-impact players is going to evaporate,
especially for programs outside the top-tier group in the major

There isn’t an easy solution to the
problem, though.

It’s impossible to blame a student-athlete for
maximizing their financial opportunities in college, and Russo noted
most of the NIL deals are made by companies with “no obligation to
publicly disclose deals,” giving the NCAA no regulation power.

That’s why the NCAA has requested a
federal law that regulates the market. NCAA President Mark Emmert
asked for a “federal framework” during a congressional hearing in
October, per Maria Carrasco of Inside Higher Ed:

“This framework needs to put college
athletes first, on that we all agree. While it has been exciting for
me and others to see college athletes explore new financial options
in recent months, we’re also seeing many challenges and concerning
trends. These concerns, if not addressed soon, may be very difficult
to reverse.”

So far Congress hasn’t acted on the
issue, as coaches continue to sound the alarm.