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COLLEGE SPORTS INSIDER

Here comes NCAA — maybe Congress, too — to save NIL from itself

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College Athletes-Compensation

FILE - The NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis is shown in this March 12, 2020. A group that advocates for college athletes has filed a federal complaint that claims NCAA Division I schools are violating the civil rights of Black basketball players and major college football players by prohibiting compensation. The National College Players Association announced Tuesday, March 22, 2022 it had submitted a complaint to the Office for Civil Rights in the Education Department. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)

COLUMBIA, Mo. — So it turns out the bushels of cash that university boosters have hoarded under the banner of name, image and likeness are actually going toward recruits and transfers.

Clutch your pearls, America.

Who could have seen this coming?

Answer: everyone with a brain.

But maybe not for long. As Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger first reported this week, the NCAA is coming after your million-dollar NIL collectives. Maybe Congress, too. The NCAA wants to crack down on the third-party corporations that boosters have launched across the country to funnel money toward recruits and transfers. New NCAA rules “provide more guidance to member schools on what many administrators say are NIL-disguised ‘pay for play’ deals orchestrated by donors to induce prospects, recruit players off other college teams and retain their own athletes,” Dellenger wrote this week.

Too little too late? The NCAA decided last summer that until there’s a federal NIL law or more comprehensive NCAA rules, athletes must comply with their state NIL guidelines — with the baseline rule it’s always illegal to pay recruits and transfers solely for choosing a school.

Missouri is among the 30 states that passed NIL legislation since last summer. For now, the booster-backed collectives will insist they’re operating under the guidelines set forth by their state laws. The NCAA wants to take a closer look at the receipts. Two conference commissioners, the SEC’s Greg Sankey and the Pac-12’s George Kliavkoff, reportedly met with U.S. Senators yesterday begging for federal oversight.

One thing’s for certain: There will be lawyers.

We’re just over 10 months into the NIL era of college sports and the NCAA sirens are flashing in the rearview mirror. The tipping point(s) probably came last week. Days after All-Big 12 basketball player Nijel Pack left Kansas State for Miami for an $800,000 NIL deal, Miami guard Isaiah Wong — a nice college player but not even second-team All-ACC — threatened to transfer unless the same NIL company sweetens his deal.

If Miami hoopers can leverage the transfer portal to enhance their NIL contracts — not exactly a college hoops bastion — what’s the going rate for the next five-star phenom at Duke, North Carolina or Kansas?

Then over the weekend, Pittsburgh receiver Jordan Addison, the Biletnikoff Award winner, entered the portal just ahead of the NCAA deadline. Whispers of tampering allegations from Pitt soon followed.

All is fair in love and capitalism, right? But is this new way of life sustainable for college sports? (Funny we don’t ask the same when the schools frivolously spend millions of dollars on search firms and coaching buyouts, but when the players start cashing in, it’s time to question the entire system.)

“There was a time when we didn’t think Netflix was sustainable,” new Missouri basketball coach Dennis Gates countered against the doomsday view this week. “I think whenever you you’re going through transition, you’re going to have some skepticism and the dust has to settle a little bit. And I think as the dust settles, it’s a new way. It is going to be the way. We just are being captivated of how fast it’s moving in the direction it’s going. I think when it comes down to rules and regulations there are going to be some … parameters set. We just don’t know what they are yet.”

For the 16th straight year, the SEC produced the most NFL draft picks with 65, ahead of the Big Ten (48), Big 12 (25), Pac-12 (25) and ACC (21). The SEC also had the most first-round picks with 12, ahead of the Big Ten’s seven. Since 2010, the SEC has produced 135 first-round selections. The ACC and Big Ten are tied for second with 64 — less than half of the SEC total.

Terrific news for Mizzou, right? Well, maybe. Here’s the sobering reality: With two picks last week, the Tigers have produced 27 NFL draft picks since joining the SEC in 2012. That’s ahead of Tennessee (25), Kentucky (22) and Vanderbilt (13) over that span but behind South Carolina (31) and well behind Florida (61) and Georgia (65). Mizzou won’t get any closer to the division’s upper class without more NFL talent.

“We’re recruiting at a better level,” Mizzou coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “We’ve got to develop those players and we’ve got to continue to recruit, whether it’s through the transfer portal, whether it’s high school players, the best players in this state needed to stay here. I saw a lot of kids from this state get drafted from other universities. So it’s my challenge to make sure that’s not the continuation moving forward.”

Seven players from Missouri high schools were drafted: Alabama receiver Jameson Williams from Cardinal Ritter (Lions, first round); Arizona State running back Rachaad White from Center High in Kansas City (Buccaneers, third round); Michigan running back Hassan Haskins from Eureka (Titans, fourth round); Notre Dame running back Kyren Williams from Vianney (Rams, fifth round); Northwest Missouri State defensive end Sam Roberts from Waynesville (Patriots, sixth round); Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson from Fort Osage (Dolphins, seventh round) and Oklahoma offensive lineman Marquis Hayes from Pattonville (Cardinals, seventh round).

This week’s MVTPP (Most Valuable Transfer Portal Player) not named Jordan Addison is former Missouri State guard and Columbia native Isiaih Mosley, who this past season joined the illustrious 40-50-90 club. He became just the third Division I player in the last 30 years to average 20 points per game (20.4) while shooting 40% from 3-point range (42.7), 50% from the floor overall (50.4) and 90% from 3-point range (90.0). Duke and Kansas are in the running. Could he land in the SEC? Mosley will visit Mississippi State this weekend, 247Sports.com reported Thursday.

In the game of transfer portal musical chairs, former Florida quarterback Emory Jones has committed to Arizona State to replace Jayden Daniels, who transferred to LSU to replace Max Johnson, who transferred to Texas A&M to replace Zach Calzada, who transferred to Auburn to replace Bo Nix, who transferred to Oregon. Dizzy yet?

How about former Mizzou basketball assistant Chris Hollender as a candidate for the head-coaching job at Evansville? He was an All-Missouri Valley Conference player for the Purple Aces in the 1990s and later coached there under Marty Simmons. … Former Mizzou center Jeremiah Tilmon is headed north to play for the Hamilton Honey Badgers of the Canadian Elite Basketball League. He wrapped up his first professional season with the Lakeland Magic, Orlando’s NBA G League affiliate, and averaged 9.7 points and 5.1 rebounds. “Jeremiah is a physical low-post presence who played well in his rookie season with Lakeland,” Honey Badgers general manager Jermaine Anderson said. “Jeremiah attacks the glass on both ends of the floor, and he’s an exceptional screen and roll player. He will provide additional toughness, and takes pride on the defensive end. I love the fact he is eager to work and develop. We’re definitely looking forward to having him with us this season.” … Do the Denver Nuggets have buyer’s remorse on that five-year max extension they gave Michael Porter Jr.? After signing the deal that jacks his salary to $29.75 million next year, Porter played all of nine games this past season before undergoing another back surgery that sidelined him the rest of the year. Sound familiar, Mizzou fans? “Hindsight is 20/20,” Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly recently told reporters in Denver. “We tend to be a team that rewards guys earlier instead of getting in the marketplace. So we are really looking forward to him being fully healthy. And he’s working his butt off to achieve that goal.” As the Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla noted in print, Porter has appeared in only 157 of 390 games over the last five years counting his one year at Mizzou and four seasons in Denver, mostly due to chronic back issues. Wrote Kiszla: “For all his MVP might, Nikola Jokic can’t lift Denver to its first NBA championship while dragging a $172.5 million ball and chain behind him. That’s the crazy amount of money Connelly gambled on Porter over the course of a deal that binds him to the Nuggets through 2027, a span that figures to encompass the prime years of Joker’s career.” … Speaking of salaries, here’s a ballpark salary for newly drafted Baltimore Ravens running back Tyler Badie, who signed his rookie contract on Thursday. Last year’s deal for the No. 196 pick was a four-year contract worth $3,834,618 with a signing bonus of $174,618. Had Badie gone late in the fourth round, he would have made around $4.2 million with a signing bonus around $700,000. “You don’t want to just pigeonhole him as a third-down back, because you watch him run inside, and you watch him bounce and cut things up into the teeth of the defense, and he runs with good pad level and balance and determination,” Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz told the team’s web site. “So, he’s going to come in and compete, and he’s going to do whatever he can do to get on the field and help us out.”

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