What’s in a name, image, likeness?
We can pretend that money has never been so important in college athletics, but the harsh truth is that it has always been paramount. Thankfully, however, people are starting to admit it. When the Supreme Court invalidated a law that had been used to keep money out of college sports, there was a sudden influx of cash to a cash-rich industry. But finally, that cash is making it all the way to the working class of that industry, the athletes themselves. Many athletes at top programmes have been receiving substantial NIL (Name-image-likeness) contracts, but just recently, a group has taken things one step further. Instead of offering a contract to just one player or a handful of players, a collective has stepped forward to offer contracts to an entire football programme. Out in the true West Texas desert of Lubbock, Texas, a group called the Matador Club offered 100 Texas Tech players one-year, 25,000 USD contracts. This deal includes all 85 scholarship players (who do not pay for their education) and the 15 walk-on players that will try out and join the team at a later juncture. As the collective puts it, it is providing a sort of base salary for the entire football team. The key part of this NIL contract is that the Texas Tech athletes will not be precluded from other NIL contracts. Texas Tech fans hope that this approach will disrupt the recruiting process throughout the country and that more talented youngsters will flock to Lubbock. If this experiment works, it will no doubt benefit the programme.
Another day, another defection
As a predominately business magazine, LIV golf has been a frequent discussion topic among our contributors over the last few months, and very few of us actually follow golf. That is because we are seeing a real-time, historic moment taking place. We know some stories about the origins of the NBA and other leagues, but those all happened generations ago. That is why when we are seeing such a momentous event play out in real time, it is hard not to write about it. Moreover, the influence of Saudi money has made it all the more intriguing. There is a seemingly bottomless deep pocket financing LIV, and it is bound to cause some long-term headaches for the existing powers that be. Just last week, Henrik Stenson, the Ryder Cup captain for Team Europe, reported that he would no longer be the continent’s captain. He said that his decision to join the LIV tour means that the Ryder Cup will not allow him to participate, even though LIV indicated that it would allow Stenson to fulfil all of his captain duties and play any tournaments. What we are seeing is a league and an existing power structure closing ranks; they want to quickly punish and ostracise anybody that goes near LIV golf. The problem is that more and more golfers are being lured by the promises of much, much more money and much, much less work to get it. Who knows if fans will be interested in LIV golf for long, but there is no question that as long as the Saudis keep financing it, there will be players happy to cash in.