‘There’s a lot to unpack’: Ex-Clemson player weighs NIL

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Matt Bockhorst was just as surprised as most to see the recent name, image and likeness played out so publicly between Alabama coach Nick Saban and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher, an au during which Fisher called a press conference to respond to Saban’s accusations that A&M paid for every player in its No. 1-ranked recruiting class.

The former Clemson offensive lineman said it wasn’t a good look for Saban, but what’s done is done. Bockhorst won’t be shocked if the rapid climate change in college athletics leads to similar feuds between schools in the future.

“I believe (Saban) made a mistake in an instant, and he realizes he was wrong,” Bockhorst told The Clemson Insider in a recent phone interview. “I would say this as a general outlook on life: don’t throw stones if you live in a glass house. I think that’s the tip of the iceberg from a public perspective of what’s going to come out one day.

The subject of NIL continues to be a pressing topic among college athletes, coaches and administrators – and one about which everyone apparently has an opinion. An all-ACC inside lineman who ended his five-year career with the Tigers last season, Bockhorst comes out just when the opportunities for players to cash in are as vast as they’ve ever been in the league. nascent era of NIL, which officially began last summer when the NCAA made it legal for student-athletes to reap zero profits.

Still, Bockhorst has no problem with his timing.

“You could also say that I came out at the right time because my experience with college football was devoid of any ulterior motives and conflicts of interest that now exist for students,” he said.

What Bockhorst has a problem with is how some boosters have used NIL and its ambiguous regulation for purposes other than their true intent. Bockhorst has no problem with current student-athletes making money off their NIL like some of his former teammates did. Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei struck sponsorship deals with Dr Pepper and Bojangles last year, while a number of Clemson athletes in multiple sports are paid through partnerships with the two NIL collectives of the university, both launched earlier this year.

But collectives using their funds as a recruiting incentive to lure future student-athletes to their school don’t sit well with Bockhorst. The NCAA tried to crack down on that by introducing new NIL guidelines last month that identified collectives as boosters, making it illegal for them to negotiate NIL deals with rookies.

“I think it’s important – and I’m not the first person to make this point – but NIL stands for name, image and likeness. So a very collective phrase you could use for that is endorsement deals, right? said Bockhorst. “But someone coming to play at your school is not an endorsement deal, and that’s definitely happened in the last year and he’s lumped into NIL. I don’t agree with that interpretation of that, and I think there’s a lot of things that you think are unethical that are happening as a result of putting in place NILE.

“I think we need some kind of direction here, some kind of bureaucracy. And I know the NCAA came out last month and said very explicitly that it couldn’t be used from a recruiting perspective, and that’s really where I think regulation is going to be focused here short term . But I think over time there will be issues that need to be addressed. I would hate to deprive these student-athletes of the opportunity to make money on what is rightfully theirs because people couldn’t follow the rules.

As for the debate over whether or not athletes should be compensated beyond their purse and full participation fee allowance, “I wouldn’t necessarily side with one side or the other.” , Bockhorst said. He understands both sides, starting with those who believe athletes should be entitled to more given that the work they do helps generate millions of dollars in annual revenue for their schools.

“There is a school of thought that student-athletes should just be jumping for joy and grateful that they have the opportunity to be student-athletes and they should cherish it because there are a lot of people who can’t. . and would give anything to be in their place,” said Bockhorst, whose career was cut short by a serious knee injury last season. “I understand why people say that, but I would respond to that by saying – and I would use myself as a perfect example – that student-athletes pay a huge price to be student-athletes. Whether it’s injury, time commitment, sacrifice or otherwise, time spent away from family on holidays like Christmas, there is absolutely a price to be paid by student-athletes. And so I strongly disagree with that notion.

On the other hand, Bockhorst said he doesn’t buy into the idea that not seeing that money means athletes are taken advantage of. He said he understands why some may feel that way, but he also thinks being a member of the Clemson football program has given him the kind of opportunities non-athletes don’t get, including an internship in under the PAW Journey program and assistance in finding a job. as Associate Wealth Advisor.

“Speaking of my experience at Clemson – and I understand that my experience at Clemson is not the experience of all student athletes – but the opportunity to be part of an organization like Clemson football and the great university of Clemson is an opportunity that’s huge,” he said. “And if you understand the value of that and understand the doors that can open for you by being part of this program. And not just being in but being standout, and that doesn’t just mean on the pitch. Behave in a professional manner, be a great human and always interact with people and show people respect and courtesy and represent yourself and your family in the right way, it can get you to skip the minor leagues and play in large in some cases.

“So I don’t think either of those two views really accurately identifies the issues within college athletics. Now I think I’d be silly to say that college athletics is flawless, and I think college athletes are somehow compensated above stipend is not a bad thing, however the problem I believe is that the way NIL was deployed with very, very little context and very little regulation allowed people to exploit the NIL era.

Professionally, Bockhorst is involved in the NIL space. He said the company he works for, Beacon Pointe Advisors, has partnered with Limitless NIL, an agency founded earlier this year by Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford to represent athletes and help them maximize NIL opportunities.

From a personal perspective, Bockhorst said incentivizing education by tying NUL benefits to graduation looks like a “reasonable compromise.” It could also deter players from entering the transfer portal just to seek a quick salary, Bockhorst said.

But Bockhorst’s opinions on the subject are just a few of many, leaving him with one overriding thought on a topic that continues to be hotly debated.

“I think there’s a lot to unpack with NIL,” he said.

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