Thoughts on another KU title, transfers and NIL

The professional basketball playoffs go on and on and on, but here are some things to ponder regarding college basketball.

Congratulations to KU for winning another NCAA basketball championship. Call it good fortune or timing, but three of their wins in the tournament came against teams battling injuries. KU edged Creighton, who was down two starters. The Jayhawks beat Villanova, who was minus their second-leading scorer. And, of course, KU beat North Carolina in the championship, a team whose big man was battling a bad ankle and who finally left the game for good in the last two minutes when he reinjured his ankle in a close game.

That said, it’s not KU’s fault that players on other teams were injured. KU still had to win the games.

If the Jayhawks had played a complete game, they would have won every tournament game comfortably. When they played a good half, they dominated the opposition. As it is, they consistently played the best basketball and deservedly won the tournament.

There’s a saying that “statistics are for losers.” That was the case in the championship game against North Carolina. If I had told you that North Carolina would outrebound KU by 20, and make 10 more free throws, I doubt you would have liked KU’s chances. But KU led in the one statistic that counts – the final score.

College basketball, as we know it, is changing dramatically. Nearly every team, even KU, benefits from players who transfer to their program.

In recent years the transfer rules changed, and more players are transferring than ever before.

On one hand, it’s easy to justify why players should be allowed to transfer. After all, coaches can break contracts at any point to coach somewhere else, so why shouldn’t players be given the same flexibility?

On the other hand, student-athletes no longer have to develop patience to find more playing time on the team that recruited them. Now they are allowed to transfer once without sitting out unless they are a grad transfer.

Another reason the landscape is changing so rapidly is because of NIL (names, images, and likenesess). When the National Collegiate Athletic Association decided to let athletes be paid for the use of their names, images, and likenesses this past summer, the main governing body for college sports in America did so at what amounted to legislative gunpoint.

According to a search on Google, NIL can be described this way. In the simplest of terms, it describes the means through which college athletes are allowed to receive financial compensation for the use of an athlete’s name, image, and likeness through marketing and promotional endeavors.

For some players, NIL is a boondoggle.

Former K-State guard and first-team All Big 12 player Nijel Pack transferred to a new place to play after his coach resigned after the season. According to CBSsports.com, the 6-foot guard is getting a two-year $800,000 deal with LifeWallet as part of an NIL agreement. To top it off, Pack was also promised a car as part of the deal. While this is hardly the first NIL deal to accompany a signing in college basketball, it’s rare for the terms of the deal to be released at the time of signing.

The article continued … Even though NIL deals are still relatively new, they are already making an impact with roster movement and players’ decisions. Pack is just one example of college athletes being able to profit big from their talents. Kentucky star and National Player of the Year (POTY) Oscar Tshiebwe decided to return next season — uncommon for a reigning POTY — and is expected to earn $2 million in NIL deals.

Sports analyst Jeff Goodman tweeted, “Agents ALL OVER these college guys for NIL because they can make 15-20 percent off NIL as opposed to 4 percent off salary.”

Maybe we should drop the term student-athletes in regard to NCAA Division I basketball. I’m sure some take their education seriously, but those who transfer or are in it for the NIL money appear more serious about being an athlete than getting a free college education.

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