New Money Flows Into College Athletics with NIL

The scales were tipped in 2009, because of a video game. Former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon filed the lawsuit heard around the college sports world after seeing his “likeness” in a video game.

The fallout started with college sport video games being discontinued since players could be edited to represent their real life counterpart. Universities and the NCAA were being compensated, but players were not.

It was nothing more than an idea until prior to the 2021 season. Without any hard regulations, the NCAA cleared student athletes to profit off of their image. The first sign that things had changed: #1 recruit Travis Hunter chooses Jackson State and receives nine figures in an endorsement deal.

Adjusting to life with NIL

After one season, the NCAA implemented new regulations on NIL. The major “change” being more of a clarification. While players are still free to earn money, the concern is boosters getting to recruits prior to getting on campus and swaying their decision.

Players will still have the opportunity to earn for themselves, and for those around them. The new rule has seen examples of players getting deals for not just themselves, but their teammates. At the introduction, a local pizza place in South Bend teamed with the Notre Dame offensive line.

University of Houston defensive end D’Anthony Jones earned a sponsorship with Star Pizza, but wanted to make sure his position group was able to join in on the fun.

“When I say ‘Sack Ave’, yes technically, I’m the CEO I came up with it. But, Sack Ave is a whole, it’s my whole entire d-line. And anything that I’m included with, I try to include them as well.” — UH defensive end D’Anthony Jones

No one understands the benefits of NIL better than the student athletes. Football players take classes year round and have to meet team obligations in the summer as well. So while they are given a free education, the hours they must dedicate to the athlete portion of the deal is often more than what is expected from a full time job.

Athletes are expected to handle and deal with a lot, before they’re even eligible to vote. Dealing with expectation of being a student athlete can weigh on young people.

Injuries happen and players have to fight back from them. UH running back Alton McCaskill will miss this season on the field, but is in the weight room recovering as his teammates go through conditioning.

He has been lucky enough to receive multiple sponsorship deals. While a benefit for him, it is another thing on his plate in what many would find a stressful time, rehabbing an injury.

“We deserve it.” UH running back Alton McCaskill

Good for the players, good for the community?

The NCAA has taken the target off of themselves in allowing outside entities to pay players. The conferences are making massive deals that will result in more money in their pockets. As mentioned, the players are finally getting a piece of the pie. What about the communities surrounding major college campuses?

The University of Houston is unique in that its campus sits in the shadow of downtown Houston, one of the biggest cities in the US. There will be a football only facility built in what is currently a parking lot, since there are not vast fields of space to place new buildings.

Improvements are being made all around campus, which calls Third Ward home. One of the more poor areas in all of the city. Just off campus a brand new facility is being built that will be home to future UH football players.

The tunnel where University of Houston football players enter the field in TDECU Stadium, June 14, 2022. An exciting moment on game days for fans and players. (left) Overlooking the University of Houston football team’s indoor practice facility, Tuesday June 14, 2022. The construction in the background will be the home of future Cougar football players. (center) University of Houston employees on their way to maintain campus and keep facilities in top shape, Tuesday June 14, 2022. Along with the progress around campus, upkeep is just as important. (right) | Martin Marroquin
Construction to expand Cullen Blvd. and improve traffic leading to future sporting events, Tuesday June 14, 2022. All around campus, but especially near athletic facilities, improvements are being made to make things more inviting. (left) The future home of University of Houston athletes goes up just off campus, Tuesday June 14, 2022. The building overshadows a local barbershop that has been in the area for some time. (center) Just a block off campus trash piles up in front of a home just behind student housing, Tuesday June 14, 2022. Despite the effort to improve campus for students and visitors, the local community in Third Ward struggles. (right) | Martin Marroquin
Just off of Scott Street and I-45 someone makes their home in a tent under the freeway, Tuesday June 14, 2022. While money goes into the campus nearby for students, some in the local community make home where they can. (left) A local unknown artist leaves their message on nearby construction, Tuesday June 14, 2022. In the shadow of TDECU Stadium, just across the street from a constantly developing campus, progress can feel far away. (right) | Martin Marroquin

There will be a wall of student housing that blocks trash filled streets and dilapidated apartment buildings. Strategic move by the university? Or just a utilizing the available space? Is it the responsibility of the campus to help improve the area around it?

It’s easy to white knight and state that with all of the money a university can produce, it SHOULD improve the area. It also seems like a bonus to not have to drive future students down a specific route because of the poverty that surrounds you.

The student athletes enrolled at UH would probably find it more enjoyable to live on clean streets free from panhandlers. But what can be done? People in charge of a university have a responsibility to their students to provide the best resources and environment that they can.

It seems unfair to increase their workload because of the location of the university. But, it feels like it should not be ignored. Especially from a state run institution.

The introduction of NIL shows that there is always more money to go around. The NCAA found a way to pass the buck, literally, off on someone else in regard to the players. Who can step up for the communities in need around these campuses?

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