On Monday, Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde wrote a story in which he quoted Utah Utes athletic director Mark Harlan as saying that a Utes football player had been offered “about a million dollars” to transfer to another school.
Mind, it wasn’t a school offering the player money because that is not allowed, but by what has become known in name, image and likeness discussions as a collective — essentially a pot that people can put money into to try to entice players to play for a school.
There are currently no rules against collectives, although some believe they have been created against the spirit of what athletes making NIL money was supposed to be about.
Harlan didn’t divulge the player’s name, although his remarks line up with strong rumors that floated in the spring that tight end Dalton Kincaid had been offered a hefty sum of money to transfer to Alabama.
In the summer before this season started, Kincaid — who transferred to Utah from San Diego of the FCS ranks — didn’t mention the school or the monetary value offered, but he did acknowledge the situation.
“It’s flattering but it’s in the past,” he said. “It has no effect on the future. It’s all behind me. I’ve got a great coaching staff, a great quarterback and some best friends in the room. I’ve already done the transfer process. I wasn’t going to do that again.”
Reaction to the story
On Tuesday, Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel wrote a column reacting to Forde’s story in which he criticized leaders in collegiate athletics and argued that players should be able to chase money if they choose and not be looked down upon for it.
In a tweet teasing his column, Wetzel wrote, “College sports needs to end the Chicken Little act and stop trying to regulate (“guardrails!”) Name, Image and Likeness. Let the free market be the free market.”
That got Harlan’s attention, and in the early minutes of Wednesday, he quote tweeted Wetzel’s tweet and wrote in a pair of tweets, “I look at this whole deal as not a chicken little act but rather how can we can maximize for students but still maintain integrity for the game...I am all for, as are many of my colleagues, to allow the students to maximize their opportunities. We just has to to protect the integrity of the game at the same time. I still believe we can can strike the balance-”
Forde’s story and Wetzel’s column came after Utah beat a USC Trojans team last Saturday that got a heavy influx of talent via the transfer portal during the offseason when Lincoln Riley left the Oklahoma Sooners to become head coach.
What Kyle Whittingham said about NIL
Asked last Monday — before the USC game — about how to retain players these days, Utes head football coach Kyle Whittingham said, “Pay them a bunch of money. … That’s kind of what it comes down to. I’m not accusing anyone of illegal improprieties or anything like that because it’s all above-board now with NIL. But as I’ve said before, there’s going to come a time in the very, very near future where the top 25 NIL pots of money are going to mirror almost exactly the top 25 programs in the country.
“That’s just how it is. That’s where it’s headed. There’s no debate about it, unless they change the rules. But I don’t know how (the NCAA is) going to backpedal now with the can of worms that they’ve opened.”
Whittingham later added that the transfer portal and how NIL has affected it “gives you a huge distaste for the game and for how it’s run and for the direction it’s going. Is that harsh enough?”