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While NIL is good for college athletics, some areas of it are sketchy

This is one of those areas where it’s probably best to not ask how the sausage was made.

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Fred Squillante/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

Around this time last year, the landscape of college athletics changed when it was ruled that student-athletes could be compensated for their name, image, and likeness. While student-athletes should absolutely be allowed to earn money while playing college sports, there are some things that come along with NIL that come off as really creepy.

Just look at what Austin NIL is doing with their offering of an “access pass” for $199. Since it is Texas, it’ll probably take just minutes to sell the 4,000 passes that they are planning on offering. Ohio State would likely be able to sell out just as quick if they offered something similar.

What I am struggling with is why do grown adults need to pay to be a part of an online community to engage with players? Do you really think those 18-22 year olds truly care what a middle-aged fan has to say? Will those interactions and engagements be as friendly if a player ends up costing his team a game, a playoff spot, or a championship?

A great unwritten rule over the years on Twitter has been to not tweet at recruits. I’ve personally tried to extend this to college athletes since they’ve already got enough they have to do deal with. Even though there are plenty of harmless interactions that go on between fans and student-athletes, there are plenty of terrible messages and tweets that have been sent to college athletes. All of the sudden it is all ok for those that pay for it? To me it just seems way too creepy.

Not everything in the Austin NIL “access pass” is bad, though. The members only tailgate does sound fun, and I’m sure they’ll have quite the spread since Texas has some great BBQ. The meet-and-greet also is an event that would be great for any members that have kids, since meeting some Texas players would be a dream for some young Longhorn fans.

I think it’s great that the student-athletes are being compensated, since they do provide a lot of value to universities. With college athletics being a business that generates so much money, they players undoubtedly deserve to get a piece of the pie. Just look at some of the television contracts that are being signed between networks and conferences. To say that student-athletes aren’t earning at least some of that money is just wrong.

What I don’t care for is some of the figures involved in the NIL dash for cash. I get that millionaires can’t just drop a giant check into a school’s NIL war chest. But, you know that those millionaires didn’t earn all them zeros in their value by having money just dropped into their bank accounts. I’m sure they have plenty of experience at being resourceful, so they should be able to find a way to get their money to those funds if they really wanted. Then again, they didn’t become millionaires by giving their money away.

If “Da Schott” and other NIL fund advocates want to try and get some donations from their rich buddies, that’s fine. Where I have an issue is by trying to get those that aren’t as financially secure to donate to NIL funds. Fans are told tales of how they’ll be a better Ohio State fan because they have donated to an NIL fund. Does this mean that they put signage in the front yards of the homes of donors letting everyone else know how much harder the donors fan?

This is another type of fear-mongering that I hate when it comes to NIL. Essentially it is being said that we have to donate to NIL funds or else we aren’t as passionate about college athletics as fans of SEC schools. Ohio State has survived just fine for years prior to this when it comes to college athletics, and I’m sure they’ll be just fine going forward. It isn’t life-or-death for the Buckeyes if a pudgy guy nearing 40 years old doesn’t donate a couple hundred bucks into an NIL fund.

Believe me, I’m not not donating to The Foundation because of Schottenstein and Urban Meyer’s ties to Donald Trump. I’m not donating to The Foundation because I don’t trust them with my money. If I wanted to blow my money and have nothing to show for it, I have plenty of prior experience at doing that, so I’ll trust my own skills in that matter.

We used to joke in the past about $100 handshakes to recruits and student-athletes. At this point if I had to give any money to student-athletes to help out in the NIL era, instead of dealing with some of these greasy NIL foundations, I’d almost rather slip a couple hundies into TreVeyon Henderson’s palms. Can’t we just Venmo a little money into whatever five-star wide receiver Brain Hartline has signed this week? Wouldn’t it all be so much easier that way?

Of course anything that is actually good has to have the most hurdles. Soon enough we will all have a better handle on NIL when there are more uniform rules around the country. Until then, we will just have to deal with NIL funds making fans think their schools are at risk at falling behind if they don’t give up their hard-earned money. It’s just one of those evils we’ll have to deal with to get student-athletes the money they deserve.