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NCAA Planning to Crack Down on ‘Pay for Play’ in College Sports

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In just the last week, Miami basketball star Isaiah Wong provided an ultimatum of a transfer after demanding more NIL compensation, and there are now reports of a multi-million dollar bidding war for Pittsburgh star wide receiver Jordan Addison.

These two situations are just the two most recent reasons why the NCAA needs to step in before college athletics reenters the “meat market” of the 1980s or becomes an all-out professional sport free agency,

With that said, CBS Sports reported on Wednesday morning, that the NCAA does plan to step in and fight against the boosters and the “pay for play” dynamic that has entered college athletics.

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“How are they having conversations [with athletes]? They’re boosters. We’ve never let boosters be involved in the recruiting process. Where did it go off the tracks? … The collectives are boosters,” said NCAA Council chairman and West Virginia Athletic Director Shane Lyons.

In response to Lyons, I would hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this is not the first time in college sports that boosters have been involved in the recruiting process, and there is no way to eliminate them completely.

Back to Lyons’ comments, he mentioned “collectives”. Following the debut of NIL on July 1, 2021, many of the biggest donors in college sports came together to form these “collectives”, which allows them to pool their money and provide a substantial, and as of now unchecked, amount of NIL benefits.

Ironically enough, Lyons’ West Virginia athletic department is benefitting from the Country Roads Trust, a collective run by former Mountaineers AD Oliver Luck and Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick.

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One of the most prominent boosters and members of a collective, is Miami’s John Ruiz, a billionaire alum of the university. According to the Miami Herald, Ruiz has set aside $10 million himself to compensate student-athletes and has already signed more than 110 to promote two of his companies, LifeWallet and Cigarette Racing.

Ruiz told CBS Sports that he believes he is inside the current rules, even claiming that his collective is more compliant than the NCAA itself. “My platform is very consistent with all the rules with NCAA and state law. We probably have a more robust compliance system than the schools or the NCAA itself. I’m extremely comfortable. This is totally kosher. We have legitimate companies,” Ruiz said.

Unfortunately, Ruiz isn’t wrong. While NCAA rules state that boosters are not allowed to pay players directly or be part of a university’s recruiting process, the majority of these collectives are spearheaded by intelligent people that are skirting vague NCAA guidelines, with many protected by state laws, and in some areas with legislation being created to empower such behavior.

As for when you can expect to see the NCAA’s response, Lyons told CBS Sports, “I think you’ll see something in the coming weeks that in short order is going to provide some of that message to the membership. ‘Here’s the guidance [for NIL].’”

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Topps to Launch Kentucky and Other School’s Trading Cards

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For good or bad, NIL has changed the landscape of college athletics and has created the ability for some cool things to happen, one of which was announced on Thursday morning.

Fanatics, who acquired leading trading card company Topps, earlier this year for $500 million, has announced that they will be launching a line of trading cards this fall that will feature collegiate athletes with their school logos for the first time ever. Whereas previously, school logos had to be airbrushed out.

The program will include more than 150 schools featuring both current and former athletes, including over 200 deals with current student-athletes at those schools. Fortunately, Kentucky is one of them.

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“We are excited that Kentucky student-athletes are a part of this exclusive new program with Topps and Fanatics which allows fans to collect official trading cards of their favorite current UK Wildcat athletes for the first time,” Jason Schlafer, University of Kentucky’s executive associate athletic director, told CNBC.

As for further details about the terms of the deals with the schools, they were not disclosed but most of the athletes at those schools will not get money. However, individual student-athletes with their own deals will be paid, with compensation varying based on their position, their public profile, and draft projections.

With the reignited interest in trading cards, I would expect these to be difficult to buy when they are released, so be prepared.

Are you guys ready to get your Oscar Tshiebwe and Will Levis cards?

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Journalist Names Wan’Dale Robinson A Player Who Will Disappoint Next Season

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New York Football Giants

Despite only being at Kentucky for one season, Wan’Dale Robinson put together the greatest receiving season in program history. Robinson set single-season records for receiving yards (1,334) and receptions (104), helping him become an All-American and All-SEC selection.

Combining his historical season with his elite athleticism, Robinson was selected by the New York Giants in the second round of the NFL draft, being the first Wildcat off the board.

However, not everybody is sold, including Kristopher Knox of Bleacher Report, who had this to say about Robinson.

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Second-round receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, though, may be a couple of years away from being a star.

New York obviously liked the Kentucky product enough to take him 43rd overall, and the skilled but undersized (5’8″, 178 lbs) receiver could eventually become a fixture in the slot. However, Robinson faces a lot of competition for playing time, as the Giants have Sterling Shepard, Kenny Golladay, Darius Slayton, and 2021 first-round pick Kadarius Toney at receiver.

The Giants are also coming off a season in which they ranked 31st in both yards and scoring. While the hiring of coach Brian Daboll should help the offense improve, it’s not going to be an instant fix.

Yes, Daboll oversaw a potent Buffalo Bills offense last season, but that unit had loads of talent and a dynamic quarterback in Josh Allen. Daboll’s track record with more mediocre offenses is far less impressive.

The 2021 Bills ranked fifth in total offense with Allen leading the charge. In Daboll’s three previous offensive coordinator stops—with the 2010 Browns, 2011 Dolphins, and 2012 Chiefs—his offenses ranked 29th, 22nd, and 24th, respectively. Daniel Jones is not Allen, and New York should expect a more middle-of-the-pack offense than an elite one.

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It’s going to take time for the Giants offense to really come together. It’s going to take time for Robinson to carve out a significant role. It all adds up to an underwhelming rookie campaign for New York’s second-round selection

Knox isn’t the only person with this opinion, with the general consensus being that Robinson was overdrafted due to his small stature. But what does he have? “Wan’Dale’s got the things you can’t measure. Everyone gets so enamored with the testing numbers and the size and the speed and weight and all this kind of stuff,” Robinson’s high school trainer, Chris Vaughn, said.

Associate head coach Vince Marrow is advising the critics not to doubt Robinson either, citing his body of work against the highest level of college football.

“When I heard people say he was drafted too high, have you seen the league we play in?… Did you see what this kid did week in and week out against Georgia, against LSU, against South Carolina?… It’s the closest league to the NFL, and he dominated that league,” Marrow said.

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We will see who is right next season, but my money is Robinson, who has thrived off being underestimated for a large part of his life.

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Will Levis Gives Fellow Quarterback Tom Brady Some Pointers

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Instagram/Will Levis

Following a 10-win season in his first as a Kentucky Wildcat, Levis is poised to have one of the best seasons in program history. Before the season even starts, NFL draft boards have Levis pegged as a first-round draft pick and one of the best quarterbacks available.

With that said, on Wednesday, Levis gave some pointers to a former sixth-round pick, Tom Brady.

Levis met Brady after Capital One’s “The Match”, which featured Brady and Aaron Rodgers facing Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen in a golf match at the Wynn Golf Course in Las Vegas, in which Brady and Rodgers came out on top by one shot – because there is nothing Tom Brady can’t win at.

In all seriouesness, it is cool to see Kentucky’s quarterback interact with the greatest quarterback of all time, and maybe even pick his brain a little bit to help the Wildcats get to SEC Championship this season.

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