In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger, Alabama head football coach Nick Saban weighed in on the current name, image and likeness (NIL) setup for college athletes.
U.S. Sens. Tommy Tuberville (R-Auburn) and Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) have both consulted with Saban over regulating NIL and making it more "standardized."
While voicing support for players getting compensated for their name, image and likeness while playing sports in college, Saban called for change because the current scene is "a pay-for-play type of environment." He argued that was not "the best thing for the player."
"The issue is, when you create those [collectives] for people, are you establishing a pay-for-play type of environment that can be used in recruiting?" Saban told Dellenger. "So now, all the sudden, guys are not going to school where they can create the most value for their future. Guys are going to school where they can make the most money. I don't think that is even the best thing for the player."
He continued, "You went to college. I went to college. Why were we going? We had goals and aspirations for how we wanted to create value for our future. Sometimes these things can be a distraction academically as well as athletically. But I'll say it again: I think name, image and likeness is good for players. The whole concept of collectives is what has created this environment that we are in, and I'm not sure that anybody really had the insight or the vision to see that was going to happen. So therefore, we had no guidelines, and now we're trying to develop some."
Dellenger asked Saban what the solution was. While not offering an exact solution, the legendary coach suggested change at the federal level to keep from having different state laws and guidelines across the NCAA.
"I don't know that I completely have the answer to that," Saban stated. "I think one of the things is everybody having a different state law. A lot of people blame the NCAA for a lot of this, but the NCAA sometimes gets caught. … Because of the changes we've had in what's legal and not, they can't enforce their own rules and they're in a little bit of a dilemma, too. Maybe it needs to be changed at the federal level so you don't have different state laws and there are guidelines for what you can and can't do. Players should create their opportunities, and what we've done now is some schools are creating opportunities for them. I don't think that was the intent."
The Alabama coach emphasized that players should not be transferring schools solely for NIL purposes. Instead, he voiced for NIL to be "more equal" so athletes aren't transferring to make more money.
"We can improve the quality of life for players while they're going to college, but it needs to be more," Saban said.
"One player should not be [earning] up here and another down here," he added. "It should be more equal. When you put these two things together—transfer whenever you want and the system we have now for name, image and likeness—you create a double-edged sword and you have people out there trying to get between the player and money who are trying to create a market. Are you transferring to make more money, or are you transferring because it's going to help you be more successful? The combination of those two things have really made it tough."
Read the full wide-ranging interview here.
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