Like It Is:

Athletes not ‘amateur’ under NIL

By: Wally Hall Wally Hall's Twitter account
Published: Wednesday, June 28, 2023
This is an April 25, 2018, file photo showing NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)
This is an April 25, 2018, file photo showing NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings, File)

Name Image and Likeness is great for athletes, but it has changed the way college athletics runs because there is no governing body, no pay scale and no limits.

It also brought what are commonly called collectives onto the scene, and they are the groups that put athletes with endorsements.

The collectives have taken a hit though from the IRS, which declared whatever fees they charge are taxable because they do not serve a charitable purpose or provide a public benefit.

Nick Saban, the head football coach at Alabama, has said many times he’s glad the players are getting paid, but no system is in place to govern it and he doesn’t think college football can sustain itself the way it is going right now.

If the NCAA or the power conferences can get this under control and pay for play is tied into getting an education then we can all go back to calling them student-athletes. Until that happens, they are not really amateur athletes any more.

The No. 1 estimated NIL deal belongs to Bronny James at $12.6 million. James, of course, is the son LeBron James and that name recognition alone would push him to being the top paid athletes.

James is a 6-3 McDonald’s All American who will play at USC this season.

The second highest paid college athlete is Arch Manning with an estimated valuation of $3.8. He enrolled at the University of Texas last semester and went through spring practices.

In the spring game he completed 5 of 13 passes and was declared the backup quarterback, but as his uncle Eli Manning said, who remembers what they did in a spring game?

The NIL has made a lot of 18-19-year-olds millionaires.


It wasn’t a surprise that someone with what appeared to be former chancellor G. David Gearheart’s email address (responses did not go through) and University of Arkansas Systems President’s spokesperson objected to Sunday’s column, which drew a number of comments from attendees at the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame golf tournament Monday.

One person asked if the thought was the UA Board of Trustees would vote against system president Donald Bobbitt, and the answer was no, the opinion was it would be a 6-4 vote, but the resolution in favor of Bobbitt was actually 7-3.

There was a time when the BOT seemed to have a unanimous vote of 10-0 on everything.

That stopped when Frances Cranford cast the lone vote to not move another Razorback football game from Little Rock after the great stadium debate in the late 1990s.

Having grown up in Little Rock and Razorback games here being part of the culture, opposing the move came natural, but in a short time it became obvious the program had outgrown playing multiple games in the capitol city each season.

Probably if not for Kevin Crass, a newly appointed BOT who was head of War Memorial Stadium’s commission, there might not be a game here this season, which by the way is at 3 p.m. Sept. 2.

When the Reynolds Foundation offered up millions of dollars for naming rights on Razorback Stadium the dye was cast, and while there has always been a healthy business divide between the thriving Northwest Arkansas and Central Arkansas, it seems the fans have adjusted.

While it was not a regularly scheduled meeting, which is July 6, the BOT got a lot accomplished, including allowing Arkansas-Fort Smith to move athletics to the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association to reduce travel and expenses.

It approved moving forward with plans to renovate the 30-year-old Walton Arena and they approved a ton of salary increases and bonuses.


Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.