NIL comes true: Whining athletes get their way with complaining and threatening of lawsuits | Commentary

·6 min read

Ever heard the stories about how parents empty their savings, take out second mortgages on their homes and plead with the grandparents for help as they try to put their children through college? That’s just to pay for tuition and books.

What about rent and groceries and living expenses like electricity and the cellphone bills and the water bills and yada, yada, yada? Yes, it’s expensive, stressful and bank-account-breaking to put children through college. If they can get scholarships however, life is grand and it’s the greatest day ever.

For most people, that is. Most above-average young academics race for the opportunity to gain any type of scholarship their high school grades and college-entry essays can earn them.

In Ohio, they’ll even get the COVID-19 vaccine for a chance to win a drawing that awards the winner free college. In fact, about 105,000 young adults got vaccinated as Ohio leaders thought up ways to get more people vaccinated. Having college paid for is that big of a deal, unless you are a scholarship athlete, apparently.

Regular students go to college and study and work hard to maintain their grades in order to keep scholarships if they have them.

They don’t go around whining and complaining about how they should be getting a kickback for that promotional picture the school used of them studying at the library, or the photo that happens to grace the cover of the orientation-day brochure, pictures that might show random students walking on campus.

Those regular students don’t threaten lawsuits for the school profiting from using their image or their name — or God forbid — their likeness, whatever that is.

For most of the 71,000 students who attend UCF, one of the largest universities in the country, the students are pay their way and have parents scrambling to figure out how to make it happen. Many students take part-time jobs and have to juggle those with their studies. They don’t get free tuition, free books, free rent, free meals three times a day, or free everything else. If they are struggling academically, they also likely do not get free tutors.

They might complain, but if they want that college degree, they keep trudging forward.

Most students, that is, except the majority of scholarship-receiving athletes, who get free everything to play the sport they have always dreamed of playing at the collegiate level — the sport they love. Earning a degree is second and only if said athletes are not good enough to turn pro, which is almost all of them.

But forever, as sports — especially football and basketball — have started to earn big money for universities and athletic conferences, the athletes have been crying foul. The greedy get greedier and they, too, want a piece of the pie. They want to be paid for what the universities gain from their skills.

Tim Tebow surely never complained about any of this.

Hmm, ever heard a Rhodes scholar crying foul because he brought attention to his school and was not monetarily compensated? Didn’t think so.

Starting Thursday, however, the whiners are the winners. They have finally gotten their way like so many 2-year-olds laying on a grocery store floor pounding their fists because mommy won’t buy them candy. These athletes, if they can sell themselves correctly, will be able to get paid for sponsoring car dealers, promoting taco Tuesdays and posing for calendars and on and on. There is no end to the creativity that could land a payday for these so-called student-athletes.

Those student-athletes who don’t really want to study or go to class but will have no problem finding time between practice and film study and the training table to stand in front of the local taco shop promoting the new crunch-a-lupas for a couple of hours. They can now get paid for that via the new NCAA guidelines that will allow promotion and marketing of an athlete’s name, image or likeness.

It seems no one considers the college scholarships to be worthy compensation. Maybe student-athletes who make a lot of money via the new NIL rules should have to pay back what their scholarship amounts to, and that can average out to more than $30,000 a year and even twice that for students who attend out-of-state schools. Then there are the private schools like Duke or Stanford or Miami ... (I can’t cipher that high, Jethro).

It costs an average of about $10,000 per year for in-state tuition and more than $27,000 for out-of-state tuition. Then throw in rent, which can be upward of $10-15,000 per year and other various living expenses, like three meals a day, books and utility bills and it starts to hurt. And weekend beer money? Ouch.

Athletes who attend college on a full-ride scholarship pay nothing for the above-mentioned expenses, except maybe for the beers. (Yes, they drink ... c’mon.) Oh, and weed is the big thing these days, who pays for that? Don’t get me started.

I digress; where was I? Oh yes, NIL. So these athletes are getting more than $30,000 a year in scholarship coverage of expenses, but yet they want more. They even get paid to work camps now, and I’ve witnessed this work. It amounts to standing around the field watching high school kids run drills for half a day. Some actually do some work, but I haven’t seen many.

It doesn’t matter what they do, which is next to nothing, business types will fork over money for a player’s endorsement. Boosters are boosters and they love to be a part of the celebrity status that is the quarterback or receiver or running back, or maybe a top-notch defensive star.

But what about the rest of the players on the team? At UCF, quarterback Dillon Gabriel stands to benefit the most from the first foray into the NIL Club. But what about Matt Lee and the rest of the offensive line? If they don’t play well, then neither can Gabriel, but will they get the publicity deals like Gabriel? Not likely.

That brings up the question as to whether the NIL will create resentment among teammates. I know one thing: if Gabriel lands a huge deal promoting a local business, he better fill the pockets of those guys protecting him up front. Resentment could lead to some olé blocking. Oops, my bad, Dillon.

And do you think schools will stick to the rules and not use NIL as part of their recruiting pitch? Yeah, right, and I have a multimillion-dollar business for walk-on tight end Alec Holler to endorse. Hey, walk-ons need love too. Oh, and I think it’s oceanfront, also.

I can hear the waves now.

Stay tuned, this whole NIL thing is going to turn into New Investigation Launched, and then Now Insert Laughter because there will be plenty to joke about after this all hits the fan. (This entire column is sponsored by Quadry Jones Jeep, paid for by some booster near you.)

In soccer, NIL means zero. Maybe the NCAA should take notes from the other fútbol.

This article originally appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Email Chris Hays at CHays@orlandosentinel.com.