On Wednesday, Nyckoles Harbor chose South Carolina as his college of choice after a contentious recruiting battle. Two days later, some on Twitter are lashing out and suggesting it was a “pay-for-play” proposition after Oregon reportedly thought they had received commitment from the five-star recruit.
Maryland alum and former NBA Front Office Executive Chuck Douglas posted a Twitter thread where he cites Tony Morrell of The Big Spur saying that Nike — on behalf of Oregon — offered Harbor a lucrative NIL deal before any South Carolina NIL-based collectives could offer a more significant financial package.
Nyck Harbor bidding War last 24 hours before National Signing Day between Oregon and South Carolina, via Tony Morrell, 247 Sports. Harbor committed to Oregon before changing his mind in last hours, after South Carolina agreed to up their offer. #NIL #Pay4Play #NSD23 pic.twitter.com/KxYh9UC88l— Cʜᴜᴄᴋ ᴅᴏᴜɢʟᴀs ✪ (@ChuckDouglas_) February 3, 2023
Douglas said on Twitter, via 247Sports, that Harbor had originally committed to Oregon, but went back to South Carolina boosters looking for more. And between a bigger NIL deal and admittedly wanting to stay closer to home, Harbor announced on National Signing Day that he would be a Gamecock.
Sources told The NIL Deal while the financial aspect of the NIL deals were strong, the personal relationships Harbor had with South Carolina were huge in him picking the Gamecocks.
“The days of telling a player or family what they want to hear are going away, and being able to build trust and respect is what’s filling in that spot,” sources told The NIL Deal.
Douglas had other interpretations.
“Booster driven ‘Pay for Play’ disguised as NIL (illegal according to NCAA guidelines) has completely changed the game in College Football,” said Douglas on Twitter. He went on to say that at his alma mater Maryland, their NIL-based collectives take care of players through community service and program outreach. He said there is no bidding on high school or transfer portal recruits.
This thread drew the ire of the South Carolina-focused NIL collective Carolina Rise. They responded that sharing VIP information on Twitter is illegal.
“Countering an offer isn’t pay for play,” quote-tweeted Carolina Rise. “Discussions about NIL potential at a school are legit. Also you should not post VIP info on Twitter. So you’ll be getting a legal letter soon from our friends at TBS.”
Countering an offer isn’t pay for play. Discussions about NIL potential at a school are legit. Also you should not post VIP info on Twitter. So you’ll be getting a legal letter soon from our friends at TBS. https://t.co/SQpuZEz4qi— CarolinaRise (@CarolinaRise1) February 3, 2023
When reached out for additional comment, Carolina Rise emailed The NIL Deal with a response saying, “The response to the tweet is our comment.”
The NIL Deal also reached out to Jeremy Smith of Garnet Trust for comment.
“Garnet Trust has not spoken with Nyck or his family to date, nor were we involved in any last minute offers or bidding wars,” Smith said to The NIL Deal. “We look forward to him being on campus so that we can collaborate on NIL opportunities. Our understanding is that Nyck is excited about the culture that Coach Beamer is building, and our philosophy is that should come first.”
This saga is a little reminiscent of the drama behind Jaden Rashada’s recruitment amid his fallout with the University of Florida. In that recruitment, after Rashada did not get the NIL deal he was expecting, which was reported to be as high as $13 million, he ultimately chose Arizona State.
We’ll see if this Twitter exchange lasts and if there will be any legal battles in court, but this could become commonplace in the NIL space.