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Miami's NIL Deal: The "Booster" Boundaries

Updated: Sep 2, 2022

Recruiting has never truly been a “leveled” playing field from year to year, but why should we sit back and allow the lack of legislation to make it worse?

"American Top Team," a company owned by Dan Lambert, an avid Miami Hurricane fan, is offering $600 a month to every Hurricane football player for endorsing his company through their respective social media platforms. If all 90 Miami players sign the deal, it would be worth over $540,000.[1]

Right now, the current state of college athletics might look a little more like the wild west than anything else. While legislation has indeed allowed players in many states to benefit from their name, image, and likeness, there are not firm and universal legislation or rules on how to regulate such deals in a manner that maintains a "level" playing field for recruiting.[2] The Miami deal is a byproduct of that legislative gap.

Simply put, these team-wide deals create a clear discrepancy in recruiting capability.

Unlike individual endorsement deals which cannot be guaranteed up front as universally present for all players that attend a certain university, flat team-wide deals like this allow coaching staffs to use such a benefit as a part of their recruitment pitch. Miami’s deal fits the bill as a recruiting advantage and has led some coaches and administrators to question its place among the new NIL world.

One such administrator is the athletic director for Baylor University and Sports Business Journal AD of the year (2021), Mack Rhoades. On Sic Em' 365 Radio, Mack expressed his concern over Miami's deal by stating that “when it’s [NIL deals] across the board. . .then it just feels a little different."[3]

I agree. I think that NIL is going to outgrow itself in potentially unhealthy ways before it eventually corrects itself. This deal provides an example in the first month of NIL legislation for overgrowth. If this style of endorsements becomes widespread, the handful of universities that are benefiting from it will have a unique advantage, especially for recruits that are on the fence.

Let's be clear... legally speaking, Miami has done nothing wrong. I think most will agree with that. However, this is one of those circumstances where legislation or regulation needs to impose itself to reel in one of the major concerns associated with NIL from the beginning – recruiting advantages.

There is no need to punish Miami or the players that plan on benefiting from the current deal because they have not broken the rules. Nevertheless, we should use this as opportunity to redirect the endorsement ship as it pertains to team-wide financial gains going forward. Let the players obtain their own individual NIL deals, but do not allow team-wide deals to create what is essentially a guaranteed salary for all players because this in turn creates an unfair recruiting advantage. If these monthly fees begin to stack on one another, we could be looking at a canyon-wide split in what a player could make as a baseline, and that will in turn contribute to the death of “leveled” recruiting.

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