116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
College coaches in Iowa are probably hoping hard for federal legislation in support of their athletes, and soon.
None has come from their own state government. A bill that would have allowed college athletes to profit on their name, image and likeness, died in the Iowa Senate this spring. Meanwhile, Illinois’ legislature passed a bill last week that would give NIL rights to college athletes, starting on July 1.
First-year Illini head football coach Bret Bielema seemed pretty happy when he tweeted “We are excited for the state of Illinois to pass the name, image and likeness bill and the opportunities that are ahead for our student-athletes. … Thank you to the Illinois legislature for making our FAMILY a priority as one of the first states to not only pass an NIL bill, but also make it effective on July 1.”
You think that won’t play well with recruits in this important recruiting month?
On the other side of Iowa sits Nebraska, a staunchly conservative state that is bipartisan when it comes to Huskers football. Thus, Nebraska also has passed an NIL bill.
Thursday, the University of Nebraska introduced #NILbraska, an initiative the university said will educate student-athletes on branding, marketing and financial literacy.
NIL laws will go into effect July 1 in several Sun Belt states, including Florida, Alabama and Georgia. Woe to the state representative who wouldn’t vote to keep his state’s SEC schools competitive with the others.
NIL laws, despite what those who begrudge college athletes for wanting to profit off their own names might say, are inevitable and long overdue. They also will add to the rapidly changing college sports landscape that also includes an NCAA transfer portal that has been a waiting room for over 1,600 Division I men’s basketball players this spring.
“Will NIL become something that triggers even more transfers?” Iowa men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery posed last week. “That’s a possibility.
“NIL is not supposed to become part of the recruiting process, but … it will be. So we’ll have to deal with that.”
This spring, the NCAA Division I Council approved new waiver guidelines for student-athletes who weren’t eligible for a one-time transfer exception. From here forward, all NCAA athletes can transfer once without having to sit out a year.
We’ve seen some teams remake their rosters on the fly. You need look no further than Iowa State men’s basketball, which has added a pair of Big Ten starting guards in Gabe Kalscheur (Minnesota) and Izaiah Brockington (Penn State) this spring, among other new Cyclones.
Most of Minnesota’s roster entered the portal after the school fired coach Richard Pitino. Kentucky, unwilling to go 9-16 again, brought in transfers from West Virginia, Georgia, Davidson, and yes, CJ Fredrick from Iowa.
That was a blindside to McCaffery. But he sounds like he’s fully awake to the reality the way things were aren’t the way things are.
“It’s going to be different moving forward as it relates to how you put your team together, essentially,” McCaffery said.
“For years, we’ve always built programs. You bring in young kids, you work with them and you help them get better, you make sure they graduate. You’re mentors, you’re counselors, and then they graduate and you have a relationship with them for a long time.
“I suspect a lot of players will be like that, but some will not. Some will chase shots, chase minutes, chase more money. So that will change how you put your roster together, clearly. So we have to adjust.”
It’s not like every high-caliber player having a separate agenda is something new. It’s just that now the players are finally about to get rights available to all other students. McCaffery is right. He and his peers have to adjust.
“I coached before we had a (shot) clock or a 3-point line,” he said. “We adjust on the court, you adjust in recruiting … so we adapt. It’ll be a different experience for the fans, clearly.
“I would hope that my roster would remain somewhat consistent from year to year, but I’ve had conversations with some coaches that are fully expecting to turn their rosters over at least 50 percent each year. So that’s possible at any given year.”
John Calipari sells the Kentucky brand and all his players who have gone on to the NBA to players who have proved they can compete at the Division I level. Boom! He has an instantly better team.
“We won’t have any trouble getting people interested to come to the University of Iowa and play in the Big Ten, I can tell you that,” McCaffery said. “We’ll have plenty of people who want to come and put that jersey on.
“We may have a few more guys that leave here, or anywhere else. You sign somebody else.”
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