AUSTIN (KXAN) — “If you’re choosing to come here because of NIL, you’re coming here for the wrong reasons.”
Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian addressed Name, Image and Likeness when it relates to potential recruits at Monday’s press conference, saying that’s the last thing he wants to talk about when recruiting players.
“I want players to come to the University of Texas because they want to come to the University of Texas,” he said. “Our football program, the academics, the history and tradition, the city of Austin — there’s so much this university has to offer, and that’s why I want kids to come here. Then, NIL can become a factor.”
December is a prime recruiting month for college programs as the regular season winds down and teams either prepare for bowl/playoff games or begin their offseason plans. There are two bowl games Texas could end up playing in, the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio and the Cheez-It Bowl in Orlando, and both are scheduled for Dec. 29. The team won’t know for sure where they’re playing until after the conference championship games, but in the meantime, before bowl practices begin, the coaching staff is trying to get athletes to commit to burnt orange.
“Money doesn’t make happiness; that’s not how this works,” Sarkisian said. “You have to go to a place you really love, that you want to be part of, be developed, you want the relationships and want those connections because that’s what matters. The NIL stuff is a bonus. The moment you start making those decisions based on money, this isn’t the place for you because you’re not going to get the experience that you should get out of it. To me, that model is going to fail if that’s the path you go down, if you’re selling money. It’s not going to work.”
The idea of NIL is to allow college athletes to financially benefit from their name, image and likeness while they are in school, something the NCAA had strictly forbidden until class-action lawsuits and subsequent laws were passed that ushered in the NIL era. Now, through endorsements and other business deals, athletes can capitalize off their status like the NCAA had done for years prior.
The university created Leverage Lineup, an online portal where businesses and other individuals can contact Longhorn athletes to collaborate on NIL deals. Athletes at UT, particularly ones on the football team, have lucrative deals already in place — from the “Pancake Factory” where offensive linemen on scholarship could earn $50,000 per year to Bijan Robinson’s partnership with Lamborghini of Austin to DeMarvion Overshown’s agreement with Covert Hutto that allowed him to buy his mother a new car.
Five NIL collectives that deal with UT athletes combined to make the nonprofit Texas One Fund. The fund hopes “to maximize community impact and be the preferred NIL fundraising collective for Texas student-athletes.
Sarkisian said the NCAA has “done a nice job of trying to operate from a NIL perspective,” and that the program has to make sure as many players as possible get NIL opportunities.
“We started on that this morning,” Sarkisian said. “NIL is not going anywhere, it’s a reality, and we have to operate within the parameters they put around it. It’s a new era of college football and we have to adapt to that. We’ve got a creative group of people that we work with and we take a lot of pride in what this university stands for and the support we get. We just have to make sure to do it the right way.”