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How Much Will it Cost to Field a Power Five Football Team in the NIL Era?

May 11, 2022

STILLWATER – According to a story in The Athletic on May 11, the NCAA is going to start trying to solve problems with their Transformation Committee. The Athletic story claims the group will look into and address a variety of issues including the transfer portal, recruiting calendar, personnel staffing particularly in football, and team financial aid limits. They are close to making two other changes that will make football programs and the Big 12 happy. Those changes are dropping any requirements with regard as to how a conference can conduct its’ football championship. Conferences with 12 members or more would no longer need to have divisions with division winners playing for the championship.

“We kind of led the way and showed college football that you didn’t need to have divisions to put on and decide a championship,” Oklahoma State athletics director Chad Weiberg told me the other day.

Also, the NCAA is close to waiving the 25 initial scholarship limit and the two-year limit, so schools can sign as many players as they need to in order to get to the total 85-scholarship limit.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
President Shrum, Gundy, and Weiberg celebrate the Fiesta Bowl win.

Oklahoma State is set up well for all of those changes. Head coach Mike Gundy and Weiberg, as well as other Oklahoma State coaches support having transfer portal windows. Those would typically be at the end of the playing season through the signing day. For football the end of the regular season through that mid December signing day. Bowl and playoff teams would have a window after they complete their postseason. There would be another window in the five days or so after spring football concludes. Those are windows to enter the portal, they could come out at any time.

The recruiting calendar would be organized with two primary recruiting periods that would make the year more organized or there is though of just giving schools a certain number of days of recruiting. Each coach out on a day would count as one. If 10 coaches are out then that would count as 10 days. A school might get 500 days for the assistant coaching staff (50 for each coach) and then 30 days for the head coach as head coaches currently are not permitted out in the evaluation month.   

Bruce Waterfield/OSU Athletics
Unlimited full-time football coaches?

With staffing, football is currently in a good place according to Gundy. He likes the way he has organized the program into football and recruiting with some division and full-time coaches obviously involved some in recruiting. The NCAA is looking at dropping designations such as grad assistant, quality control, and analyst and allowing schools to simply hire as many full-time staffers as they want and can afford. Then duties would be determined by the head coach.

Financial aid changes would be to allow schools to use as many scholarships as they want to in sports. There would be limits on rosters, but not limitations on scholarships. For instance in baseball, you might have a 32-player roster and if your school can afford it then you can offer 32 scholarships. There is the federal mandate of Title IX and gender equity laws to consider.

Now, back to NIL, where former Nebraska football player Blake Lawrence, now the founder and CEO of a company that helps college athletes and schools navigate NIL, predicted to the Associated Press that fairly soon each Power Five Division I football player will be making $50,000 or more in NIL benefits. He made his prediction based on NIL collectives currently at the Power Five level with over half the schools having collectives including Notre Dame prepared to put out $5 million annually in the NIL pool. Yes, some of that money will go to other sports, but the collectives will continue to grow in number and in wealth.

University of Illinois Labor Law professor Michael LeRoy agrees with Lawrence.

It’s an overheated market,” LeRoy told the AP. “and it really reflects the pent-up demand (of boosters) to buy players.”

You have to love this as Jason Belzer, an attorney that set up a company to help Penn State with establishing collectives and dealing with NIL said there could be trouble in the future for the NIL system.

He used an SEC example and said what happens at a big-time school in the SEC when they finish last, and they aren’t winning. Does some of that NIL money dry up as boosters begin to consider it a bad investment. Also, will schools be forced to fire coaches and make changes based on how their NIL funding is going? How long will it take a school to overcome a serious drop in NIL money and opportunities for it’s student-athletes.

Weiberg told me the other day that he and his staff, including compliance, have handled this the way they have because for lack of a better way of putting it, they are determined to control NIL and not let it control Oklahoma State University athletics.

“We have tried to be strategic about it, Robert,” Weiberg told me. “We believe in the way that we have won here. We have won here because we are really strong. Our school is great and just like you see here (Cowboys vs. Cancer) this is what makes Oklahoma State Oklahoma State. The thought was this NIL had the chance to change things and not in a good way and change our culture if we let it. I give our coaches, Coach Gundy, Coach (Mike) Boynton, Coach (John) Smith; all of them understanding that had the ability to let it do that, but wanting to prevent it from doing that. They want to continue to win on the things we have always won on here. That is our people, our culture, this place. We have approached it from the standpoint that we have to make it work for us here. I thank our coaches, our staff, and our boosters for doing it that way.”

Finally, both Lawrence and LeRoy say that the $50,000 projection per player is an average. Five-star athletes, particularly quarterbacks will demand much more. Four-star athletes will average close to six figures. That could be the ruin of team camaraderie and locker rooms being focused on common goals and any kind of culture, including Mike Gundy’s Cowboy culture.

“I don’t know, but human nature, we all know, is a real thing,” Gundy said when asked this spring about NIL and harmony in his team’s locker roo,m. “And people react differently to the way that they’re treated. If NIL was handled the way it was intended to be handled, NIL wouldn’t be a problem. It’s no different than, I would say, free enterprise, capitalist, supply and demand.

“Let’s say LeBron James makes a whole lot of money because LeBron James is a really good basketball player,” Gundy said starting an example. “And there’s other guys that play in the NBA that don’t make a fraction of the money he makes because they’re not in as demand as he is. That’s really what NIL was for, based on what an athlete’s demand could be, not just maybe to perform at a high level but for some reason that that student-athlete, male or female, could enhance somebody else’s company or business by being the face of that organization. As we move forward with this, if I get involved with distributing NIL, then we can have a chemistry problem. Because it’s like raising kids. You have three kids at home and are supposed to raise them the same, treat them the same. And if one gets all this and the other one doesn’t, this one’s gonna be upset. And I think that could be an issue with NIL. So, we’re going to build a model of consistency here in this culture on this team.”

It helps for players like Jaden Bray to learn offensive linemen are important.

Jaden Bray is an emerging star at wide receiver. Spencer Sanders is a star and an All-Big 12 quarterback. Ollie Brown is a true freshman running back that made a huge impression this spring, and then there are offensive linemen that you have to have and they have to play well for all of those other guys to do their jobs and make their talents count. Football is a team game. College football is not the NFL and it is actually good life lessons for star players that throw, run, and catch to learn great appreciation for those that block. I’d hate for those lessons to go extinct.

Discussion from...

How Much Will it Cost to Field a Power Five Football Team in the NIL Era?

1,913 Views | 5 Replies | Last: 6 mo ago by Tbinder
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Robert? One solution to limit the Wild West nature is to go back to the open transfer rules and make athletes sit out a year.

Why is that not discussed? I realize that this change was just made but the combination of it and NIL is what is creating this free agency type atmosphere.
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Bart, it would seem to me that the legal reasons for the courts upholding NIL might make a rule meant to only restrict NIL related transfers to be viewed as arbitrary and a violation of player rights......unless there's a great "other" reason shown for such a rule. IMO, the law doesn't care if Alabama and Texas outspend KState or if the college football world breaks down. I don't like it, but that's how I think it may go.
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LOL. Just read an article on The Athletic where the Iowa AD has the same opinion as mine noted above. Seems too easy!!
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I do think they can go back to the 1 year wait rule. I think they are looking at other options first though. If they do what's in the article that will stop the worst of it. We wouldn't have lost a player to the portal this year because they all went in in Jan-Mar, under the new rule it would have to be in Dec, and just two weeks to find a new home. That doesn't encourage browsing, and hey you want to go to the bowl game? No portal for you.
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For the record, Jaden Bray hasn't received a dime of NIL money. He plays because he loves the game. NIL is not his focus. He understands & appreciates the contributions of everyone on the team. He was raised that way. I'm hoping the intent is not to imply otherwise or even create such a narrative.
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