College “Free Agency”

From Fair Pay, Fair Play pages 52-75.

The book, Fair Pay, Fair Play: Getting the Pro-Team Sports We Want at Prices We Can Afford, discusses pro-team sports player and owner free agency; how the lack of accountability for team results allows them to do what’s right for them even if it may be wrong for the team and its customers.

Fans of major college basketball and football teams also feel the negative effects of free agency, particularly coaches and players. (Unlike pro-sports team owners who have a simple decision–try to win or not–colleges and universities have many other considerations that affect their team’s competitive position (e.g., academic standards, to name one).

Some college coaches seem all too willing to leave their current team for more money or a better chance for a championship or a position in the pros. For years, college basketball fans have seen their My College Team used by star players as a one-year image burnishing stop-over. And as noted in the book on page 61, Zion Williamson was encouraged to “shut it down” in the middle of his only college season to avoid possible injury that could impact his pro player/endorser money-making future. College football fans have seen too many of their My College Team’s most experienced starters opt out of bowl games to avoid harming their pro-football prospects. And two recent changes will only heighten a player’s focus on his personal interests.

Players can now transfer and play immediately for someone else’s My College Team (a one-time exception to the rule requiring a transferring player to sit out a year). Even more troubling, players can now profit from their “Name, Image and Likeness” (NIL). This will lead players to go to schools where they can maximize their income while playing and if they can’t win the starting position (which garners the NIL money), they will transfer to a school where they can.

If there’s one good thing that’s come out of these recent developments it’s the public recognition they will have on competition. Kirby Smart, Georgia’s head football coach, said the separation between haves and have-nots will grow larger due to NIL dollars. Nick Saban, Alabama’s head football coach, agreed and even noted how “we probably need some kind of national legislation to control that (NIL) to some degree.” He said there will be an imbalance in college football “if that’s not regulated in some form or fashion.”

It’s time for you to join the team and get into the game. Share with the team your concerns/frustrations on this issue. Do you have a current example? Share it. Below the comment box you can see what the team is saying on this issue.

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