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The Toll the NIL Deals are Taking on College Football Coaches

College football season is around the corner and there is something that we would like to shed some light on. As college athletics continue to evolve, the latest rules concerning name, image, and likeness (NIL) have presented new challenges for coaches, particularly in the sport of football. 

The rules, which allow college athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness (as the name suggests) have significantly impacted college football programs. While the players are benefitting from this new opportunity, the coaches are facing a unique set of obstacles that affect their role in the sport.

Understanding NIL Deals and Their Impact on College Football

What are NIL Deals?

NIL deals are a new way for college athletes to profit from their personal brand without compromising their eligibility to play. Prior to the implementation of NIL deals, college athletes were not allowed to receive any form of compensation for their athletic abilities or their personal brand. Even a $20 gift card was illegal. The NCAA’s decision to allow NIL deals has opened up a new world of opportunities for these athletes to earn an income.

One of the most popular ways for athletes to monetize their personal brand is through social media. Athletes with large followings on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter can now partner with brands and companies to promote their products or services on their social media accounts. Thus allowing athletes to earn money while also growing their personal brand and engaging with their fans.

Another way that athletes can engage in NIL deals is through paid sponsorships or endorsements. Athletes can partner with companies to promote their products or services in exchange for compensation. This can range from wearing a certain brand of shoes during games to appearing in commercials or advertisements.

The Growth of NIL Deals in College Football

The implementation of NIL deals has had a significant impact on college football especially. As of May, 2023, over 450,000 student-athletes signed NIL deals, according to a report by Front Office Sports. These deals have ranged from endorsement deals to merchandise sales to social media promotions. To think how much that has only grown in two years is overwhelming.

Some of the most high-profile NIL deals in college football have been signed by quarterbacks. For example, University of Alabama quarterback Bryce Young reportedly signed a deal worth nearly $1 million. Young admitted this week he was driving Door Dash to earn some cash his freshman year.

Other notable deals include University of Miami quarterback D’Eriq King signing with College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving and University of Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson partnering with NIL platform Yoke.

The growth of NIL deals in college football has also led to some unique partnerships. For example, University of Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke partnered with a local restaurant to create a signature sandwich called the “Van Dyke Special.” The sandwich has become a fan favorite and has helped to promote both the restaurant and Van Dyke’s personal brand.

How NIL Deals Affect College Football Programs

While NIL deals have brought numerous benefits for players, the rules surrounding them have also impacted college football programs as a whole. Coaches have had to adapt to new rules and regulations and even incorporate NIL deals into their recruiting strategies. Programs that were unable to offer substantial NIL compensation to their players have found it harder to attract and retain top talent. This has created an imbalance that has impacted teams across the country.  Now there is another complicated layer of factors that can impact a young student athletes decision on where they attend school.

Additionally, some programs have taken a proactive approach to NIL deals, creating programs to help their athletes navigate the new landscape. For example, the University of Miami has launched a program called The U Network to help their athletes with branding, marketing, and financial literacy. The program provides resources and support to help athletes make the most of their NIL opportunities. Again, providing them an additional advantage when recruiting.

Overall, the implementation of NIL deals has had a significant impact on college football. While it has created new opportunities for athletes, it has also created new challenges for programs and coaches. It will be interesting to see how the landscape of college football continues to evolve in the coming years as more and more athletes engage in NIL deals.

The Challenges Coaches Face with NIL Deals

Balancing Team Dynamics and Individual Success

The introduction of NIL deals into college football has created a new dimension to the coach’s role in managing team dynamics. Coaches must find ways to balance the collective goal of the team and the individual goals that players might have for their careers. The introduction of money into the equation could easily disrupt the teamwork dynamic and lead to tension between players. Coaches must, therefore, find ways to ensure that each player’s individual needs are met while still maintaining team cohesion.

Recruiting and Retaining Players in the NIL Era

One significant challenge that coaches face in the NIL era is recruiting and retaining players. Coaches must ensure that their programs are financially competitive in recruiting new talent. The potential for increase in availability of funds for talented players is promoting an environment where elite players choose to play for the highest bidder. This can make recruiting a top challenge for coaches battling for elite talent with big spenders. 

Retaining players has also proven difficult, as players who desire more significant endorsements or exposure than what the program can give them might opt for transferring to another institution where opportunities are available. This has led to a growing list of programs that have seen their rosters change significantly due to the financial impact of NIL deals on players’ decisions. Which also directly goes into parallel with the implementation of the NCAA Transfer Portal. 

Adjusting Coaching Strategies to Accommodate NIL Deals

Coaches also face the challenge of adapting to the new policies and changes that NIL deals have brought. They need to be knowledgeable about the legal aspects of the deals and how to best advise players in engaging in these deals. Coaches need to adjust their strategies to accommodate NIL deals while making sure that their players’ athletic performance is not negatively impacted.

The Financial Implications of NIL Deals for Coaches and Programs

Increased Pressure on Athletic Department Budgets

NIL compensation has the potential to raise a significant amount of money for college athletes. However, this could put a strain on the budgets of athletic departments and potentially shift priorities away from non-revenue sports. Also, it could make price of procuring and retaining top-tier coaches much more costly for wealthy programs in search of long-term success. This could lead to a widening income network separating top and mid-tier programs, and future similar actions could negatively impact lesser-endowed institutions and conferences.

The Role of Boosters and Donors in NIL Deals

Booster and donor organizations can legally finance NIL deals for student-athletes. However, it remains unclear how booster organizations and donors will directly impact recruiting and retention. It is possible that such groups will fund NIL deals to attract top talent to their preferred programs, leading to more significant financial inequities among programs.

Potential for Salary Disparities Among Coaching Staff

Coaching staff salaries might change in response to the potential for NIL profits for college athletes. Coaches working for top programs with high-profile players will benefit from the increased exposure and revenue. However, coaches of programs that lack support from the booster and donor organizations might not get the same opportunities for higher salaries. This could lead to disparities amongst coaching staff and impact the athletic parity of the league.

The Ethical Concerns Surrounding NIL Deals in College Football

Ensuring Fairness and Equity for All Players

NIL deals have raised concerns over fair practices for collegiate players. Players could end up heavily compensated for their name, image, and likeness. Meanwhile, others might be overlooked or undervalued. Ensuring equitable pay distribution is the priority of universities when engaging in such deals.

Addressing Potential Exploitation of Student-Athletes

Another ethical concern is that NIL deals could encourage the exploitation of college athletes. There is a chance that agents or boosters might take advantage of players by offering lucrative deals without proper guidance and protection from the university. This issue needs to be adequately addressed to ensure the safety and welfare of student-athletes involved in NIL deals.

The Debate Over Amateurism in College Sports

The wave of NIL deals in college football has reignited the debate over amateurism in college sports. While the NIL policy allows college athletes to earn profitable opportunities, it also raises serious questions about the definition of amateurism. Advocates for amateurism argue that athletes should not profit from their participation in college sports because it could negatively impact their status as amateurs. However, athletes’ opinions are divided; many believe that they should have the right to monetize their name and image while maintaining their NCAA eligibility.


The debate over NIL deals in college football is far from over, and it is uncertain as to how NIL deals will continue to shape college football. It is clear that the landscape of college sports will continue to change with players being able to monetize their name, image, and likeness, and coaches will need to continually adapt to stay competitive. As the world of college football continues to navigate the introduction of NIL deals, it remains important for universities and athletic departments to prioritize the welfare of their student-athletes and maintain the integrity and fairness of college sports.


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