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NIL’s second year will boost fandom, bring pitfalls to athletes

The NCAA’s Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) policy was an immediate and seismic shift in college sports when it went into effect last summer. July 1 marks its second year, which means new offerings for fans and potential pitfalls for student-athletes.

They are called Collectives. They’re new organizations that facilitate NIL deals like the ones between Bojangles and Auburn running back Tank Bigsby. In other terms, schools are pooling money from fans to funnel directly to players.

While they haven’t yet completely taken over college football, it’s only a matter of time before these organizations become more invasive than kudzu.

It doesn’t help that football villain Urban Meyer recently took a new job at one such place, but collectives have the opportunity to do a lot of good for fans and athletes alike. Many collectives already offer ways to help athletes market themselves, but they can and should go further to teach financial literacy to their clients.

More selfishly, collectives are creating new opportunities for fans to get even closer to the athletic departments they love.

Some of the first collectives began at Penn State, Ohio State,and a few hours south of 256 territory in a place called Lee County.

Auburn is up and running with a collective that provides perks to fans at increasingly more expensive tiers. You can pay up to $500 per month for the Gymnastics-Orange plan and receive, honestly, some pretty cool benefits if you’re incredibly into Auburn Gymnastics.

NILauburn.com explains that the “NIL-Auburn membership program has been developed so that you have the ability to direct your funds in exchange for sport-specific membership benefits.”

This new way of doing business might not be so new at all. It’s an unfortunate truth, but many colleges cheat. At least some “under the table” transactions we all hear about might now happen in the sunlight. That’s not a bad thing for the sport, but it’s bound to lead to trouble for the kids who sign these deals.

If you are a student-athlete and you’re getting paid for your name, image and/or likeness, it’s being tracked and reported. Remember how irresponsible and stupid we were between the ages of 18 and 22? Add a six-figure paycheck to that irresponsibility and stupidity, often in a small college town. It all has the potential for major mistakes to be made.

The Notorious B.I.G. put it best when he said, “The wealthier one becomes, the more challenges one must face.” Or something like that.

I’m certainly not against student-athletes finally being fairly compensated. It is an inevitability, however, that some kids are going to get in tax trouble. If fine, upstanding gentlemen like John Daly, Mike Tyson and Pete Rose ran afoul of the IRS, it could happen to someone who went from their high school prom to making hundreds of thousands of dollars in a matter of months.

On the upside, the mental image of a giant, beefy offensive lineman filling out a Form W-9 is hilarious.

The podcast is taking a break this week, but we’ll be back with the normal first-class entertainment you’re accustomed to with Throw The Flag next week.

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