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Oh Boy...The Free Agency of College Sports Is Here
The first case of a player leaving a school in pursuit of NIL money and what it means for the future of college sports.
Transferring to another college use to be taboo and a “cop out” for athletes.
Now it’s the norm.
Just look at this chart for NCAA men’s basketball:
In one decade, the amount of transfers per year has tripled.
A lot of this can be attributed to the NCAA’s loose rules around grad-transferring, super-senior seasons, and coaches moving around without any restrictions.
What a mess we have in college sports (especially men’s football and basketball).
But it looks like it’s going to get worst, before it gets better.
And so it begins…
The Era of NIL Transfers
UCLA football defensive end Mitchell Agude has become the first college athlete to publicly enter the transfer portal in an effort to make more money off of his name, image and likeness (NIL).
Most fans saw Agude being a cornerstone of UCLA's defense next season after he removed his name from the NFL Draft.
But he changed course, entering the transfer portal to pursue bigger NIL deals.
Do you blame him?
How Much is Agude Set To Make?
The UCLA football hasn’t had any lucrative individual NIL deals and no third-party collective is in place at the school as of today.
Meanwhile, Spyre Sports in Knoxville established a collective to funnel NIL benefits in the form of cars, apartments and "six-figure packages" for Tennessee football players.
From what I could find, it looks like Agude has been presented with a few potential NIL deals reported to be worth around $60,000.
Even with limited information, it seems clear why he would want to leave UCLA.
not ready for the NFL yet
not going to get much (if any) NIL money at UCLA
willing to go to a school that will pay him (through collectives)
Agude is a high-level college player who might not have a pro future which makes benefitting from the new NIL rules his best chance of earning money playing football.
Forget the politics and ethics. This is the RIGHT move for the young man.
Every single person reading this would transfer and take $60,000 guaranteed over staying at UCLA and $0 guaranteed.
Mitchell Agude is capitalizing financially from his peak athletic value.
Is This Legal?
It’s no secret that college sports are in disarray right now between NIL, transgender legislation, and anti-trust laws.
But I think we can all agree that this free agency model being created around the loopholes of NIL collectives is bad for the landscape as a whole (although it is good for some players).
So you’re probably wondering how Mitchell Agude is able to openly transfer while admitting it’s because of NIL money.
Well here’s why:
it’s not known if those programs contacted Agude before he entered the transfer portal
it's a gray-area legally within NCAA rules for third-party individuals to contact a player not in the portal and inform him that NIL money would be available at a certain program if he did submit his name to the portal
The NCAA has established bare-bone guidelines for name, image, and likeness - mostly around making sure schools and programs can't be involved in arranging NIL deals for its student-athletes or recruits.
However, it's well known that many programs have been able to go around NCAA rules through third parties labeled as NIL collectives or trusts.
I’m happy for Mitchell Agude being able to get paid for his contributions on the field - although I do recognize this free agency model will not work long-term.
UCLA football brought in $41.3 million of operating revenue in 2019.
The players got $0 of that.
Meanwhile, head coach Chip Kelly made $5.60 million in 2021.
If Kelly wanted, he could take a job elsewhere.
So if a player wants to leave, why shouldn’t they be allowed.
NIL has its pros and cons:
players getting paid = pro
free agency in college sports = con
And one last thing, Mitchell Agude survived a coma at 9 years old…how could you not root for him?
Happy Wednesday. Count your blessings today!
Thanks for reading,