In a recent press conference, Missouri Football coach Eli Drinkwitz discussed NIL culture in college athletics as well as making an odd comparison between the SEC and the original 13 colonies. We're not going to talk about the latter in this article, as if you know who exactly Eli Drinkwitz is, you're not surprised he makes that sort of eclectic and confusing statement. He had a similarly eclectic, but a bit more controversial statement regarding NIL and how it's used. He stated that college players, through NIL, are making more money than his brother-in-law, who works as a pediatrician and saves lives. "We're giving guys, 18–22-year-olds, life changing money (The part where he mentions his brother-in-law goes here) And we kind of do it cavalier and we think there's not going to be side effects or issues?" He later quoted statistics on the Paul Finebaum Show to back up his take, stating that in professional sports, where 6-to-7 figures are made just like what is made thru NIL, 78% of professional athletes are bankrupt five years or less after they retire, so it sets a dangerous precedent.
As much as I can understand where Drinkwitz is coming from, the fact that so many athletes fall out of wealth so quickly after the source (Being with an organization, in this case) goes away is not going to be ramped up due to NIL. It is a bit rich that he makes a statement such as this too, given his record and how much he himself is getting paid, but I won't go too much into that. It is life-changing money, more money than many of these players have seen in their entire lives, however it's not the money that causes this to happen, it's the people these athletes surround themselves with, the decisions they make, and in the end the consequences of their actions. Building a culture that can be a resource for these athletes, surrounding them with positive influences and people that can help rather than hurt, and providing the opportunities for work and supplement post-playing career is what the focus needs to be on, rather than simply blaming the players for the misuse of money and their struggles.
Coaches, teams, and leagues do not educate and provide little to no resources for players post-playing career and earn just as much if not more than these players, yet no blame falls on them? They have the ability to provide these resources and counseling, yet a vast majority don't. Tell me exactly how that makes sense. Players need to have good resources and people that can help them manage this money, rather than keeping them from earning off their name, image, and likeness like they rightfully should. They also need to be able to develop healthy networks and have opportunities post-playing career, which many don't because they've developed these shady connections and bad actors. The advent of NIL does just that, in that it provides a legal and resourceful way for these players to earn money and manage it throughout their college careers through NIL advisors. It also provides networking opportunities, a chance to surround an athlete with positive influences that want to buy in on the athlete, and potentially, opportunities post-playing career too. If we want to buy in more on taking care of these players and making sure they don't make the mistakes Drinkwitz mentions here, then the coaches, teams/programs, and leagues must not cast blame on the athletes anymore and recognize there's a lot more they themselves can do to mold athletes into good money managers/good people in general. I reiterate, NIL makes this EASIER by having specialists and advisors, as well as networking contacts, that can consult these athletes from very early on so that these mistakes are mitigated as much as possible.
However, what do you think on Drinkwitz's comments? Is there potentially something I missed or something that you agree with or disagree with? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Burn Notice: 8/10 Let's make sure these athletes don't get burned and do our best to mitigate that, yeah?