WVU’s Neal Brown Hopes To Smooth The NIL Curves

West Virginia receiver Sam James and head coach Neal Brown enjoy a Mountaineer victory.
West Virginia receiver Sam James and head coach Neal Brown enjoy a Mountaineer victory.

WVU’s Neal Brown Hopes To Smooth The NIL Curves


NCAA student-athletes are moving at a high speed on road of change. Whether that highway leads to a subtle curve or off the edge of a cliff depends on who is reading the map.

College athletics have already navigated through many new paths in recent years, moving though things like cost of full attendance, countable hours, four-year scholarships and others.

There are more obstacles to come, though.

The ability to transfer once in a college career and become immediately eligible at the new school is likely down the road a couple years but it is fast approaching.

The next major course change in terms of rules will likely come in the summer of 2021 when student-athletes will almost certainly be allowed to make money from their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL).

The NCAA’s Board of Governors voted last month in support of the NIL concept, though many of the finer details are still to be formulated. It’s expected that the final set of rules will be approved this coming January and will go into affect on July 1, 2021.

So, is the approval of NIL opening Pandora’s Box, thus drastically changing the amateur model that has helped make college sports so popular?

“I don’t know the answer to that,” answered WVU head football coach Neal Brown. “I do think (NIL) is coming, and I don’t think there is anyway anyone is going to stop it.

“I think it is going to make our job more difficult as coaches,” he stated. “I get the players’ perspective. I truly do. I don’t know if it’s the best thing for college sports, but also I know that’s not my decision either.”

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According to the preliminary set of rules put out with regard to NIL, schools will not be able to help student-athletes obtain monetary deals. Agents can be retained by individuals to help in that regard.

Endorsements in relation to advertisements is one obvious avenue that will be opened to student-athletes with the approval of NIL legislation, but other revenue-producing opportunities will be available to many college athletes. Only a select few will probably be contracted for ads, but social influencing through platforms like Twitter is likely to be used by even more. Camps and individual instruction – such as tennis players and golfers offering lessons – are certainly envisioned, as are student-athletes being paid to attend autograph signings. There is also a service called Cameo where thousands of athletes and celebrities are available to provide relatively short, personalized video greetings. The cost is normally between $30 to $40 per recording, though some of the more popular figures charge several hundred dollars. So in the future, if you want your favorite Mountaineer to send your little brother a birthday message, that will probably be available starting next year … for a fee.

West Virginia head coach Neal Brown leads his Mountaineers onto the field
West Virginia head coach Neal Brown leads his Mountaineers onto the field.

Admittedly NIL will be a headache for most coaches, but Brown realizes that it’s coming, and there is no use in fighting it.

“We’re going have to deal with it,” admitted WVU’s second-year head football coach. “Coaches at the end of their careers, they don’t necessarily have to deal with it if they don’t want to. But fortunately or unfortunately – however you want to look at it – I have a lot of skin left in the game, so it’s something I’m going to have to deal with moving forward.”

Once NIL goes into affect, the world of college athletics will certainly change, but whether it changes a little or a lot is still to be determined.

“In the end, it may not be as big a deal as people are making it out to be,” noted Brown. ‘The social media influencers, they’re going to benefit. A lot of that may come from the Olympic sports, maybe even more so on the female side than anywhere else. I do think the star players in football and men’s basketball will benefit. I just think it’s too early to tell if it is going to completely change the entire model.”




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