Rivals — American Top Team, one of the nation's top training academies for MMA fighters which has 44 licensed gyms throughout South Florida and the world, has finalized plans to offer Name, Image, Likeness contracts to every University of Miami scholarship football player.
Each of the 90 existing Miami scholarship players will be offered a $500 a month contract (up to $6000 for a year) to endorse American Top Team through their social media accounts, personal appearances and other marketing vehicles. If all 90 players opt to accept a deal, the total American Top Team investment in year one could reach $540,000.
We saw some pretty lucrative NIL deals for several student-athletes across the country on July 1, but it took less than a week for things to get really interesting. This is the frontier everyone wondered about.
So here's a business that is offering $6,000 a year to every player at one particular school. That's great! But what's going to happen when other business owners inevitably set up de facto free agent contracts for every four-star recruit in the state? Does that constitute pay-for-play? Is it technically legal now, as long as the school isn't involved?
I find this fascinating. Pretty much everyone has agreed student-athletes should be able to profit off their own names forever, but now that it's actually allowed, I don't think anybody knows what the future of college sports — and particularly recruiting — is going to look like.
And take a sport like baseball, where schools are only permitted 11.7 scholarships and almost no players receive a full ride. If Mississippi State and LSU are both offering one kid a 25 percent scholarship but Raising Cane's is willing to give him $10,000 a year to do endorsements in Baton Rouge, that's likely going to be the deciding factor. And of course there's no telling what all will go on with the top football and basketball recruits in the country.
I think this shit is going to get a lot crazier before it gets more sane, but it's going to be the players benefitting from it, so I'm fine with that. It's going to be the Wild West for a little while and that's ok. I'm very anxious to see where all of this goes.