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HBCU commissioner on NIL: ‘It definitely puts us at a disadvantage’

Morgan State University
Photo credit: Morgan State University

The implementation of NIL has allowed student-athletes to be paid for their name, image and likeness.

However, since there aren’t too many restrictions on NIL at this moment, it has made it even more difficult for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to compete with Power Five schools for the top recruits, especially because those Power Five schools benefit from more government funding and more resources.

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“The NIL, the transfer portal, who will it benefit the most, and who will it hurt the most?” Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) Commissioner Jacqie McWilliams said, via The Associated Press. “It could help us. But it could hurt us. But we’ve been dealing with that for a hundred and sixty-something years.”

Another issue raised is that big-name programs generate passionate fans and alumni, and as a result, they form collectives and raise an exorbitant amount of money to have the ability to pay their student-athletes the money they’re seeking.

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“We don’t call up the alumni and say, ’Hey, I want $12 million for all the student-athletes for NIL,’” Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Commissioner Sonja Stills said. “We can’t do that. So it’s the difference of widening that gap. Student-athletes look at where they want to go to school based on what the NIL deal could be at that particular school. So it definitely puts us at a disadvantage.”

NIL on the surface level could still help student-athletes at HBCUs earn compensation for their talents, but as it currently stands, there is clearly a lot of work that needs to be done to level the playing field between HBCUs and Power Five schools.

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