Saban, Smart Voice Concern Over NIL Recruiting Tactics

    • Nick Saban and Kirby Smart both voiced discontent over an NIL trend that could be a major focus going forward.
    • They agreed schools are using NIL to entice potential recruits, which could cause a recruiting “imbalance," Saban said.

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The first college football season of the name, image, and likeness era has come to a close, and both coaches in the title game — Alabama’s Nick Saban and SEC Coach of the Year Kirby Smart of Georgia — have voiced discontent over a trend that could be a major focus going forward.

Schools using NIL to entice potential recruits could cause an “imbalance relative to who can dominate college football,” Saban said prior to Monday’s title game.

The NCAA’s interim policy attempted to prohibit NIL from influencing recruiting, but it’s unclear how much muscle the governing body has to actually enforce it.

Haves and Have-Nots

The coaches’ comments are the latest in an industry-wide debate over whether NIL should be limited to preserve fairness, though college football recruiting was imbalanced long before NIL. After all, two of the top spenders on recruiting faced off in the title game.

Either way, the coaches are right about one thing: NIL is becoming a major factor in recruits’ decisions.

  • Athletes have begun asking about NIL when taking recruiting trips, officials previously told Front Office Sports.
  • Schools and conferences at all levels have assembled and advertised robust programs to show athletes they want to support NIL endeavors.
  • Donors and alumni at schools have taken it a step further, organizing collectives that promise millions to their schools’ athletes.
  • Former NFL player Charlie Batch offered a $1 million deal to former Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams if he transfers to Eastern Michigan.

Saban has reiterated a common request: the need for “national legislation.”