Last Monday night, Alabama lost in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Two days later, the Alabama House State Government Committee unanimously voted to have the full legislature repeal the state’s college athletics name, image, and likeness statute.


Not really – at least, not as a direct result of the Crimson Tide losing a game.

But certainly, the change of heart by the Alabama legislature was connected to the belief that the state law – which had some restrictions, such as giving Alabama colleges and universities the option to prohibit student-athletes from signing contracts with brands or companies from certain categories and allowed schools to prevent student-athletes from entering into contracts that conflict with contracts held by the college – was more restrictive than other states and certainly more restrictive than NCAA rules, which could put colleges and universities in Alabama at a recruiting disadvantage.

House Bill 76, repealing the law that was passed last year, was sponsored by State Rep. Kyle South (R-Fayette).

“We found that our athletes are at a disadvantage compared to states that are operating under just the NCAA rules,” said South.

Frankly, I always prefer the state and federal government stay out of sports as much as possible.

But last summer, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) approved a “Name, Image and Likeness (NIL)" policy that allows all NCAA athletes to be paid for use of their names and images (basically, pictures). Almost immediately, million-dollar deals started coming through for athletes, including some that you’d never expect:

  • Hercy Miller, the son of rapper Master P, announced a $2 million name, image and likeness (NIL) deal with an American technology company. Miller plays basketball at Tennessee State.

  • LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne was reportedly set to earn more than $1 million because of her massive social media following, which she was now able to monetize.

But just allowing athletes to make money wasn’t the end of the issue for NCAA member schools.

It also coincided with the NCAA freeing up rules regarding athletes transferring from one school to another, which meant sitting on the bench at school could now be actually costing an athlete money. Who wants to be a back-up to a literal million-dollar quarterback at Enormous State U when you can maybe be the starter at Middle Tech and make at least half that much?

So now coaches not only have to recruit high school athletes, but in some cases, they have to re-recruit their own players to keep them from leaving. And while athletes used to try to leave in order to get playing time at another school, now playing time can also mean money – now – for an athlete who suddenly realized he may not be good enough to play pro ball but can make life-changing money with one or two good years of college ball in a smaller, but still lucrative, spotlight.

Sometimes that works out well for the smaller schools, who pick up an athlete they have no chance of signing out of high school.

But it also works for big schools, which can go out and add a top player from another school to fill a specific need in what is essentially the NCAA version of free agency. Need a top wide receiver? There’s a guy who has turned out to be better than anyone thought at a small school who might fit that bill nicely – unless, as happened with Alabama last year, a quality receiver like Jameson Williams (Ohio State) is looking for a better opportunity for whatever reason. Then why not go for the proven commodity?

Nothing wrong with the Alabama-Williams deal (and the Tide was far from alone in benefiting like this); both were playing within the new “rules” of an NCAA that used to go overboard trying to protect the amateur status of college athletes (while allowing athletic programs to make millions off those same athletes).

Thinking that NIL deals aren’t part of the recruiting and transfer process is like thinking Texas A&M’s top-ranked recruiting class is because all these players grew up dreaming only of being Aggies.

Winning championships is great, and every athlete wants to be part of a championship team.

But since only one team can win the national championship in a given sport in a given year, the question every top athlete has to ask himself is: Where can I go to maximize my financial portfolio? Which school’s following and fan base has the potential to pay me the most for my name, image and likeness?

And so, the Alabama legislature acted.

After all, one of the few - very few - restrictions the NCAA puts on NIL rules is that it’s up member schools to make sure their NIL-involved athletes follow state laws.

That’s a lot easier for schools to do when there aren’t any.

Ray Melick is Editor-in-Chief of 1819 News. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to