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Is it really all that bad that Virginia is behind the times on NIL?

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Virginia seems to be missing out on a recruit because of NIL, if you believe the guy with 273 Twitter followers who broke that story.

Meanwhile, North Carolina has had not one, but two veteran starters announce this week that they’re staying, which some are connecting the dots to reflect that NIL is playing a role there.

We’re behind the times.

The end times are nigh.

This, if you believe UVA Twitter.


First, to the meandering saga of London Johnson, a high school junior who was supposedly set to announce his college choice in January, decided to hold off, then it was April 1, with another delay, then yesterday, with another delay.

This matters to UVA fanatics because of Johnson, a 6’4” point guard who is, according to one recruiting service, the top-ranked point guard in the Class of 2023, and Virginia was said to be at the top of his list.

Not punching down at the guy with 273 Twitter followers, who may very well know what he’s talking about, but he’s all we’ve got in terms of knowing that this has to do with NIL, not that you’d know our intel on this is that flimsy from looking at the Twitter machine the past 24 hours.

Seriously, folks, you’re giving the brand a bad look, piling on a 17-year-old kid, whatever his reasoning might be for where he wants to go to school to play basketball.

If it’s money, if it’s he’s afraid of being homesick, a girl, whatever, it’s his life, and all you’re out in this is rooting interest.

And if it’s money, as assumed, so what?

So much of the kvetching I’m seeing has to do with, well, it’s because Virginia is hopelessly behind the times with NIL, when in reality, can anybody reasonably explain what being up with the times on NIL would actually mean in real life?

Nobody among the keyboard warriors seems to know any more about NIL other than, um, you know, the Alabama quarterback made a million dollars last year from it, and something something Texas A&M’s #1 recruiting class.

Here’s a dose of reality: we’re not yet a year into the NIL era, and even the coaches who would seem to benefit most from it, the Nick Sabans, Dabo Swinneys, Jimbo Fishers, say they don’t like where things are headed.

You know why? Because every dollar that goes to NIL is a dollar that doesn’t go to the athletics programs that use donor dollars to pay the salaries of coaches, assistant coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, athletics trainers, doctors, academic support staff.

Don’t just assume that the folks throwing money at NIL to try to lure players into coming to a particular campus, or to stay there, are doing that on top of what they’ve always done for good ol’ State U.

And for every donor that is, it’s just as likely that there are multiples who are cutting their money to the athletics programs, or eliminating that spending altogether, to put it where they’re being told it might go to better use.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of issues and problems that we’re really just starting to get a clearer sense of being at play here.

Economics suggests to us that there is a market correction on the horizon, how far down the road we don’t know, but NIL is a bubble like any stock bubble you see on Wall Street, with the marketplace being awash in stupid money in the interim, until the people behind the stupid money start to ask themselves, what kind of bang are we getting for our bucks here?

The idea that you’re a fan or alum or long-time booster, and you just want ol’ State U. to win the championship, starts to fade when the reality sinks in that, no matter how much money folks spend, there’s still only one national champ in football each year, one national champ in basketball each year, et cetera, et cetera.

And that, now, the cost of being able to hang one of those banners up in the rafters has just gone up, big time.

And all to, and this gets us back to London Johnson, lure a 17-year-old high school junior to come play for ol’ State U.

Nothing personal against London Johnson, or any recruit who bases a decision on where to go to school to play sports on NIL money, but if it’s all about the money to a particular kid, should a coach, should a fan base, really be all that concerned about that particular kid in the long term?

What’s to keep that kid from looking at the end of each season at how the marketplace might value his or her skills and talents to open things back up to the highest NIL bidder?

At least in professional sports, the franchises have contracts with their performers that set the terms for compensation for the athlete and the commitment from the athlete to those terms being honored for a set period of time.

With NIL and the transfer portal as a double whammy, college student-athletes, for now, anyway, are effectively free agents at the end of every season.

I’ve never been inclined to write a big check to a college athletics program, but if I were, this would be the time that I’d be putting that on hiatus, until the schools, conferences, NCAA and Congress get things settled.

As for my alma mater, the University of Virginia, I’m very much in favor of UVA being behind the times with where things are in the here and now with NIL, for all of the reasons outlined above.

Smart investors don’t throw their money at the height of a bubble; you wait until the bubble bursts, and then you strike.

If we lose a four-star point guard recruit in the process, there are other four-star point guard recruits.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
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