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Lane Kiffin on NIL: I love players getting paid

Kiffin's comments come after a reported $7-8m deal for a 2023 recruit & a day after Tennessee landed a prized QB prospect who is believed to be the recipient of the deal

The Name, Image and Likeness business of college football – college athletics, in general but especially king football – continues to dominate most discussions around the sport.

It’s been less than two weeks since The Athletic reported that a 2023 high-level football prospect had secured a contract worth a potential $7-8 million for his collegiate career, pending the legal boilerplate and three years at the program, among other items. Per myriad sources with direct knowledge of the situation, that prospect is believed to be five-star quarterback Nico Iamaleava and Knoxville-based Spyre Sports Group.

Iamaleava is a Los Angeles-area prospect from Long Beach, California, who had offers from a veritable Who’s Who of college programs and announced his decision this week to commit to the Vols in a video he released on a social media account.

The attorney who allowed The Athletic to review the contract earlier this month also is based in the metro Los Angeles area.

And athletes have landed deals all over the country since last summer, when NCAA officials and others cleared the way for student-athletes to earn money off their likenesses via product endorsements, marketing promotions and personal appearances, among other items. Some athletes have founded lucrative podcasts; others, such as offensive linemen, hawk barbecue at local restaurants; still others endorse cookies or hamburgers or myriad other items.

Lane Kiffin, quick to embrace NIL as a potential method for augmenting recruiting and helping programs possibly more quickly narrow the gap between college football’s standard haves – think Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and perhaps a couple others – and have nots, on the heels of his Ole Miss program’s record-setting 2021 season doubled-down his support for NIL Tuesday as the Rebels opened spring camp.

“I’ve obviously said a lot about NIL from the beginning of it,” Kiffin said. “Let’s make sure that we understand I love that the players are getting paid, and I just say how it is.

“I guess I got called a clown before for saying how it is. NIL has a lot to do with where players go, and to not think that is crazy.”

Kiffin then pointed to professional football and the NFL with an example he believed drove home the impact of NIL on college athletics and particularly recruiting in college football.

“Literally, it would be like being a head coach in the NFL signing a great free agency class of signing (players), going out and getting these great players and coming up here and saying to you guys that the contracts had nothing to do with the players coming here and they just wanted to come play for me.

“So obviously it has a lot to do with where players go, and it should. Everybody wants 17-18-year-olds … adults choose jobs a lot of time for money, salaries, so why would a kid not?”