Student-athletes getting paid is not ruining college athletics

Every time a student-athlete gets paid, an SEC school loses its wings

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart speaks during the Southeastern Conference’s spring meetings
Georgia football coach Kirby Smart speaks during the Southeastern Conference’s spring meetings
Image: Ralph Russo (AP)

The way NIL deals are covered, you’d think they’re illegal. The go-to analogy for every college football pundit over 50 is it’s the Wild West, a time period of American history readily associated with outlaws, bank robberies, train heists, gunslingers, genocide, and general lawlessness. Also rampant in the Old West: Slavery! Great job, guys! Yes, we’re pioneering the unknown of actually compensating a workforce responsible for generating billions of dollars. How foreign, how outlandish, how… un-American.

One SEC athletic director even went as far as to say, “Let’s be honest, we are all money laundering.” Alright, calm down. The Medellín Cartel isn’t asking you to legitimize drug and blood money, and compared to the crime the NCAA has been perpetrating for years, NIL deals are a traffic ticket.


I, for one, am reveling in the chaos caused by NIL deals and the transfer portal. It’s refreshing to see big banks taking little banks all over the college landscape, and the more power the players have, the angrier the powers that were get. (And who doesn’t love a pissed-off Nick Saban?)

SEC schools are Robin Hooding it, and we’re mad?

Sports Illustrated published an article Tuesday titled “Inside the NIL Battle That Is Splintering the SEC: ‘We’re All Money Laundering.’” It’s a well-written piece even if it’s a little gaslight-y, but my main takeaway is that the premier college football conference in America is operating like the 1 percent on Tax Day.


States are exploiting loopholes within loopholes for the benefit of have-nots. Of course, boosters and universities aren’t finding ways to pay players altruistically; it’s for self-interest and profits. However, the bottom line is players are being paid. They’re the ones on the courts, between the hedges, doing the heavy lifting, and risking injury, and should benefit monetarily.

Diplomas only open so many doors, and you can’t hock them at pawn shops. Cash in hand is better than two certificates in the bush. These ADs and coaches complaining about getting their hands dirty are full of shit to the nth degree. They should be celebrating, the media should be celebrating, and society should be celebrating because this is a good thing.

I don’t care which rules are being bent, what states can do what, or who is tripping over themselves to keep up. It’s just nice, for once, to see someone other than unpaid athletes scrambling due to the NCAA’s greed and incompetence.

Figure out NIL deals on the fly

The NIL system isn’t perfect, but it’s all we got. And it’s all we got because colleges and the NCAA still refuse to pay the players. If there was some uniformity, maybe these kids would stop acting like mercenaries. Instead, they’ve been told to fend for themselves, and we can’t be surprised by the capitalistic appetites of kids who grew up in America.


So, yes, it sucks that Title IX is being violated, and not every athlete is compensated equally. It’s not the fucking Wild West though. That implies student athletes/unpaid workers are taking something that’s not owed to them.

They deserve a portion of the profit, and every athlete should be given a pass any time they take advantage of a bag that’s offered to them legally. The real criminals are the universities and the NCAA, who still tell us there’s not enough money.


There’s plenty of cash to go around, and that’s evident in all of the new, creative mechanisms being concocted to filter payments to kids on nonexistent payrolls.