Establishment discovers shocking changes in sports

Marvin Westwestwords

If you listen closely, you can hear …

Heaven help us, name, image and likeness cash is out of control. It is past-due time for the feds to save us from ourselves.

The Congress of the United States of America does such a good job helping guide the country, it would, without a doubt, quickly halt and soon repair damage to college football, basketball and maybe baseball and track.

Find the first-aid kit. There are knots, bruises and bleeding all around. The transfer portal is a public auction. Recruiters are stunned by their loss of influence. There are charges of high-level tampering, one coach against another, sinners or worse.

Our beautiful lifestyle is undergoing shocking changes. Too much. Too fast. What if somebody floats the possibility of cuts in leadership pay?

That is, more or less, the plea summation from the administrative establishment of college sports.

Nick Saban says what is happening is unsustainable. Kirby Smart is troubled that fans will be turned off by the mercenaries.

Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey went to Capitol Hill and asked Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee for consideration, understanding and assistance. Commissioner George Kliavkoff of the Pac-12 focused on Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state.

The Big 12’s outgoing commissioner, Bob Bowlsby, didn’t lobby politicians but did develop a strong opinion.

“I think NIL would have been infinitely better off if we had implemented the dozen or so guardrails that we had in place. There was some clear language about inducements for initial enrollment and transfers, which obviously are being widely flaunted at this point.”

Condoleezza Rice has credibility in sports. She says NIL solicitation and impact on recruiting have turned that critical component into “the wild, wild West.”

Many others in the brotherhood are convinced NIL is a national issue. To maintain a level playing field (and floor), there must be standardized rules and regulations.

Congress excels at rules and regulations. Incidentally, the playing field hasn’t been level in my lifetime.

Mark Emmert, retiring (ousted?) president of the NCAA, saw the value of unanimity. Emmert, seldom accused of doing anything right, tried to warn all of college sports about the dangers of state laws shaped to fit individual interests.

Commissioner Sankey said NIL activities have reached the uncomfortable stage “but as long as they are compliant with state law, it seems those activities can take place.”

A point to ponder: A day or two before the missionary trip, the Spyre Sports group, best buddies with Tennessee athletes, was recognized as the leading collective in the country. Spyre funding caused the commitment of five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava and inspired a wave of recruiting success for Josh Heupel.

I don’t know for sure that Nico is the $8-million-teenager but many coaches and fans think he is. Belief that the Vols have that much firepower is unsettling.

Rivals have noted that Spyre had enough spare change to encourage Hendon Hooker and Cedric Tillman to remain in orange one more season. It appears Spyre is trying to help Rick Barnes reload his roster.

Another point to ponder: Jeremy Pruitt got fired because money, then filthy lucre, was used as an illegal recruiting tool (poor results). Boosters were nervous wrecks. They could get in trouble for treating a hungry recruit to a hamburger and fries. Now there are legal ways to bestow Porsche 918s or Ferraris.

Not long ago, an agent demanded a better NIL deal for his client, a Miami basketball player, with a transfer threat as muscle. In previous times, college athletes could not have agents.

Maybe you have heard that changes are all over and around sports.

Somewhere in the future is the possibility that Volunteers will actually compete for national championships. That shock might be enough to inspire an assortment of rules. Right now, there are almost none.

The NCAA has been perceived as impotent and fearful of more lawsuits. Traditional big spenders are hustling to catch up with Spyre. High school and transfer athletes are shopping for best offers. Established college standouts have developed a theme, “How about me, Porky?”

It appears Spyre (and Tennessee) got a genuine jump on at least some of the competition, maybe most. Maintaining a proper supply of funds is the next order of business. Companies and serious donors will expect return on investment.

If the Vols win, happiness will be a significant award. If they don’t, participation will drop off – maybe fast.

The entire name, image and likeness movement is terrifying for mid-sized athletic programs. Big-name schools with massive fan following will get even stronger. NIL potential will certainly influence recruiting and transfer decisions. If the middies get or develop a superior talent, poachers will prevail.

I refuse to believe Congress can equalize Los Angeles and Bowling Green. There are decades of evidence of what coaches can do with rules.

Marvin West welcomes reader comments or questions. His address is


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