NIL: Clemson Leads Way; The Right Way

There are those days that can change the course of things. For Clemson Athletics, Friday and Saturday were two of those days.

With the surprise announcement on Friday, introducing Reign, the name of the new initiative/program/facilities for NIL, Clemson will be at the forefront of the ever changing landscape of college athletics with regards to NIL. It’s as if Clemson is changing the direction of NIL, leading by example into a place that no one has gone before. That direction, you ask? The right direction.

Then, the announcement on Saturday. A collective made up of several former players and Alumni was formed. It puts an entirely different slant on the process. Here is the mission statement copied directly from their website. (TIGERIMPACT.org)

“CU Athletes are powerful, respected ‘influencers’, perfectly positioned and now able to leverage their fanbase and )social media) platform for good, to raise awareness and promote engagement for select community oriented non-profit organizations, cultivating Clemson’s culture of caring as student athletes.”

It’s one thing to receive an NIL deal or sponsorship by doing nothing of substantive worth, but imagine a different, a better, a more meaningful way to use one’s Name, Image and likeness. Instead of hawking Dr. Pepper, Bojangles, car dealerships, shoes, clothing or one of a hundred other deals, these young men and women can support something real.

In NIL, the sponsorships are mostly designed for one expressed purpose, to entice (buy) high profile recruits. Over time, it also has little impact on their communities, local charities or really anything except their bottom line. Most understand, other than lining the pockets of 18-21 year old young men, there is little of real value added to society, only dollars.

I might be living in a parallel universe but I believe, regardless of law, ethics, morality or practicality, paying an athlete to secure their commitment is wrong. As I’ve said before, it’s not so much a matter of legality or illegality but rather, right or wrong. It’s about common sense, fairness and integrity.

Sure, in the pursuit of money, there is probably a large number of recruits that will ‘take the money and run,’ those aren’t the type of young athletes that are necessarily attracted to a program like Clemson. As Dabo Swinney says, “Clemson is not for everybody, it’s an acquired taste.”

The offering of current players the opportunity to use their name, image and likeness, not only for financial gain but to support one of a 150 plus charities recognized by the Tiger Impact founders, I believe, this is the way to go about NIL.

Yes, these are great days to be a Clemson Tiger, in a matter of three days, Clemson may have changed the future course of NIL sponsorships. It’s a future that all Clemson Nation can be extremely proud. Honestly, few would have ever expected anything less from Clemson University.

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