It’s easy to be frustrated over the lack of control being exercised over NIL compensation. It’s also easy to mock the NCAA for its (to date) ineffective approach to reining in perceived excesses. I would argue, though, that the current situation is driven more by conscious choices made by the schools and their conferences than anything else.
Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean. Take this:
The schools have always abhorred the idea of them paying college athletes directly. Once the Alston ruling came down, that left NIL compensation as the default payment delivery system, a convenient way for the schools to maintain a hands off approach to player compensation. Of course, that’s had a cost, too, as schools are now finding out what it’s like to let their boosters operate openly, and with few controls, in funneling cash to kids.
And here’s a quote from Notre Dame’s Mike Brey.
Greg Sankey, all by his lonesome, could stop the aggressive collective actions at places like Texas A&M and Tennessee today, if he wanted to, and, since it would be action taken at the conference level, there wouldn’t be a damned thing an antitrust lawyer could do to stop him. The reason he doesn’t, then, despite all the grumbling out there, isn’t because he’s afraid of litigation. It’s because he doesn’t want his conference to disarm unilaterally on NIL. Again, it’s a conscious, deliberate choice on the part of the conference and its member schools. They would rather live with what’s going on now than risk seeing schools from other conferences outbid them for talent.
If college football is living in the Wild West, it’s because the schools and the conferences have chosen not to send in the sheriff, on purpose.