Crossroads: Brian Kelly Says NIL Puts College Football In “Jeopardy”

LSU head coach Brian Kelly has added his voice to the growing chorus of coaches expressing their concerns about the current state of Name, Image, and Likeness in college football.

Kelly is urging federal top-down regulation to replace the current patchwork of state laws governing the practice, which he believes is essential for the future of college athletics.

In an interview with ESPN, Kelly emphasized the urgent need for comprehensive regulation, stating, “College athletics is at a crossroads if this doesn’t get fixed. Where’s Title IX in all this? Where’s Division II sports? Where’s Division III sports?”

“If every state is tailoring bills to their own self-interest rather than the health of college athletics as a whole, that’s not going to work.”

Kelly’s call for federal intervention comes after he was part of a group of influential college presidents, conference commissioners, and coaches who traveled to Washington DC last month to lobby for federal NIL regulation.

The aim was to garner attention and support for the issue, as Kelly explained, “We needed to do something. There needed to be some publicity behind it.”

Kelly is not alone in his stance.

Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban had similar thoughts when he spoke at SEC spring meetings in May, stating, “If it’s going to be the same for everyone, I think that’s better than what we have now because what we have now is we have some states and some schools in some states that are investing a lot more money in terms of managing their roster than others.”

Georgia coach Kirby Smart also echoed Saban and Kelly’s concerns, emphasizing the need for Congress to take action.

“I think that any impact leadership can have on Congress to make this a better situation or at least provide some guidelines would help us,” Smart said. “I just love college athletics across the board.”

“And when you start talking about some of the ramifications that are coming down the line, it’s going to impact Olympic sports, non-revenue sports – and I love all sports of college.”

Senators Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) are among the lawmakers pushing for federal legislation on NIL. Tuberville, who has a unique perspective as a former head coach at several universities, highlighted the need for structure in a statement prior to the recent visit by coaches and administrators to Capitol Hill.

“We have to come to some kind of agreement where we can help the NCAA make improvements to this runaway NIL situation that we’re in as we speak,” Tuberville emphasized.

“We’re looking out for the player as much as for the university. But we’re looking out for education and we’re looking out for the sanctity of college sports.”

While various proposals have been discussed, no official legislation has been brought to the Senate floor yet. Brian Kelly remains hopeful that progress will be made in the coming months.

“We’ll know by August,” he remarked. “If there’s nothing on the floor or in committee by the end of July, then we’ll know that they can’t produce something.”

As the debate over NIL regulation continues, coaches, lawmakers and everyone associated with college athletics are eagerly waiting to see if federal legislation will provide the much-needed uniformity and structure to ensure the future integrity and fairness of college sports.