The NCAA is rapidly losing control of its operations due to the influence of the NIL and sports betting. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Nothing and sports betting affecting the NCAA
The growth of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) and sports betting has plunged the NCAA into deeper waters that it does not seem ready to navigate.
Turning college sports into a bidding war
The NIL was implemented to give student-athletes more opportunities to receive monetary compensation and enjoy greater sovereignty than they previously had. What it has done, instead, is turn college sports into a bidding war and flood the transfer gate with too many athletes who ultimately don’t escape it.
Add the confusion and relentless pressure of sports betting into the mix and the NCAA is in quite a precarious position. But how did she find herself here?
Great power, great responsibility
The NIL began in the late 2000s when former UCLA men’s basketball player Ed O’Bannon sued the NCAA’s refusal to compensate college athletes for the revenue they produce in video games, broadcasting, and other areas. Before that, the NCAA had been accused of being a money-hungry organization working against student-athletes.
The court ultimately sided with O’Bannon, which led to the creation of the NIL Rules in July 2021.
Rather than becoming the humble compensatory system that many thought it would be, the NIL, it produced a money-hungry frenzy by student-athletes eager to recoup the maximum available to them for their presence and performance in various institutions.
In 2022, Nijel Pack, targeting the transition gate of men’s senior college basketball, signed a two-year, $800,000 deal with LifeWallet as part of his transfer from Kansas State to the University of Miami. LifeWallet’s founder, Noberto Menéndez, is unsurprisingly a graduate of Miami and one of college sports’ most generous benefactors.
The greatest net worth of current college athletes is $3.4 million
On3, a website covering college sports and the NIL, lists Heisman Trophy winner and USC Caleb Williams as nothing at $2.6 million. Livvi Dunn, an LSU gymnast, has The largest zero value of current collegiate athletes with $3.4 million.
Of course, that kind of money has made college sports and the athletes involved in them fickle in their decision-making.
More than a fifth of all FBS (Soccer) rookies in the 2021 season were transfers. Moreover, ESPN said that more than 6,000 college football players have entered the transfer portal since the start of the 2022 season. Unfortunately, nearly half of those players will never find a new home.
So while the modern group of players now has the financial opportunity previous generations didn’t, it did come with much greater risks.
Fighting external influence
Where the waters get muddier is in the NCAA’s approach to sports betting.
Sports betting is firmly “in” in America. The gambling industry posted a net profit of $60.4 billion in 2022, a large portion of which came from sports betting revenue. Thirty-seven states have legalized the growing form of entertainment, and states like New York regularly attract more than a billion dollars in monthly potting handle.
The NCAA has done its best to eliminate sports betting interference in college sports by strictly banning it in all forms for active players, staff and team personnel. These same members also cannot provide any sensitive information to outsiders that could be used to profit from sports betting.
However, the NCAA allowed sportsbooks to collaborate with colleges, which led to Caesars sponsorship of LSU, Michigan State, and PointsBet installing an affiliate program at the University of Colorado. These partnerships were not abandoned until after the American Gaming Association (AGA) issued a new set of standards.
Huge rise in online cash
Angry gamblers have also become more vocal in their criticism of players. University of Dayton men’s basketball coach Anthony Grant said earlier this year that his players received a spike in online criticism after Ohio legalized sports betting at the turn of the year.
College sports are, of course, a huge draw. The AGA has estimated that $15.5 billion will be bet on March Madness 2023 alone.
There is a real threat from sports betting of disrupting the regular NCAA schedule. Earlier this week, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University announced investigations into team personnel for possible rule violations.
The pressure is now on the NCAA to stop the integrity hemorrhage that exploded quickly before it’s too late. Otherwise, college sports will change forever.