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LSU's Brian Kelly calls NIL runaway train, says "I don't think players want to be traded"

Kelly addressed reporters during the opening day of SEC Spring Meetings

Brian Kelly’s making his first appearance at the Southeastern Conference’s annual spring meetings in the Florida panhandle, but the veteran Kelly isn’t holding back.

Addressing reporters at Tuesday’s opening session, Kelly opined on the current landscape of college athletics – and specifically, big-time college football.

Kelly pointed to the “runaway-train” effect of Name, Image & Likeness deals that have dominated all talk of players’ landing spots – from high school recruits to transfers.

“This turned into a runaway-train that has moved well past student-athlete,” Kelly said, per reporters, “and is moving too fast toward a professional contract.

“I don’t think that’s what the intention was, so we’re going to need some guidelines here before this gets thrown into Congress.”

While Kelly has advocated for players’ abilities to earn income from their likenesses via marketing endorsements and similar elements, he doesn’t think college players largely in the 18- to 22-year-old range would be keen to some of the downsides of a contract – such as potential loss of control over where to play and attend school.

“I don’t think they want contracts; I don’t think they want to be traded,” Kelly said. “I’m sure they don’t want to be cut. …

“I’m sure they’re not going to like getting a call at 3 p.m. in the afternoon saying, ‘Hey … we traded you to St. Bonaventure. Oh, they don’t have a football team.”

While Kelly offered his take on the current state of things Tuesday as SEC meetings opened, fresh in all the coaches’ and administrators’ minds is last month’s feud between Alabama’s Nick Saban and Texas A&M’s Jimbo Fisher. Saban alleged that the Aggies had “bought” every player in the top-ranked 2022 signing class, while Fisher fired back with personal insults at Saban.

Both coaches were issued public reprimands from the SEC.