Skull Session: NCAA to Crack Down on NIL Collectives, Quinn Ewers Speaks on Ohio State, and Gene Smith Says FBS Football Should Split From NCAA

May the 4 be with you all.

Word of the Day: Mercurial.

RIP NIL COLLECTIVES? NIL’s current situation has become such an absolute mess that the NCAA has decided to do something about it, or at least try.

After several months of NIL collectives dishing out the proverbial six- and seven-figure purses to secure commitments without even trying to hide it, the NCAA has finally had enough.

University administrators, part of a task force to review NIL, are finalizing additional guidelines that are expected to clarify that promoters and promoter-led collectives are prohibited from engaging in recruiting, multiple sources tell Sports Illustrated. The guidelines will provide more guidance to member schools on what many administrators say are “pay-per-play” deals disguised as NILs orchestrated by donors to attract prospects, recruit players from other college teams and retain their own athletes.

The new directives will highlight existing NCAA statutes that prohibit reinforcements from participating in the draft, reminding member schools of the railings that, while in place for years, bent and broke during the first 10 months of the era. NIL, officials say. Under a long-established NCAA rule, boosters are a representative arm of an athletic department and aren’t supposed to associate with or coax prospects.

The guidelines, still in draft form, outline that booster-backed collectives should be prohibited from associating with high school prospects and college transfers, which could open the door to contentious legal challenges between the association and booster groups.

“We let things get out of hand,” says an official with knowledge of the guidelines. “We have to get [the boosters] to contact recruits and barter with them.”

My initial reaction here is *extremely Taken villain voice* Good luck.

I sincerely appreciate the NCAA trying to do something productive here, a welcome change indeed! – but there seems to be no way they can enforce this, especially since basically every attorney involved with these collectives openly brags about how strong their contracts are according to NCAA rules.

The general mood of all the collectives has been something along the lines of “I’d like to see the NCAA try to stop us,” which doesn’t exactly invite optimism that “cracking down” is really going to do much of anything at all.

But I guess I could at least force all these cash-for-commitment deals back under the table where they belong.

“ENJOY MY TIME IN THE STATE OF OHIO.” Speaking of gigantic NIL deals, Quinn Ewers and his mullet took to the Interwebs yesterday to discuss his decision to go to Texas, which naturally meant he had to discuss his decision to go in and out of Ohio State first.

And now that I’m writing this Players’ Tribune article, I know you all have questions. The biggest is probably: Why UT now? Why did I go to the state of Ohio in the first place?

… Can I be honest with all of you?

There’s a lot of pressure that comes with this kind of thing. There was already a lot of pressure when I made this decision the first time, and now that I’ve gone through the process again, there could have been even more pressure the second time.

Finding a balance between internal and external expectations has always been a challenge for me. On the outside, from trolls to the people who love you, inviting so many opinions and perspectives into an election like this is never ideal. And on the inside, I’m always trying to figure out how to balance having a lot of confidence in myself and also wanting to be as humble as possible to see things clearly.

It’s hard to make life-changing decisions when you’re only 17 or 18 years old. But this time I just tried to block out all the noise and focus on what I wanted for myself. It took a lot of prayer, but I am confident in the choice I made.

If you’re looking for a more complicated answer, you won’t find it here. I enjoyed my time at Ohio State, and I look back on it as a lesson that pushed me to where I need to be. I am grateful for the experience.

That was really a master class on how to write words and form coherent sentences while saying practically nothing. I tip my cap.

I guess at the end of the day, the most important parts are “I enjoyed my time at Ohio State” and “I’m grateful for the experience.” Beyond that, I’m not sure what you can really expect me to say.

YOU DON’T NEED THE NCAA. Media people and fans have been talking about this online for years, but now Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is finally saying it outright and on record from a position of power: FBS football doesn’t really needs the NCAA.

In fact, she’d probably be better off without him.

With the college landscape in the midst of major changes and uncertainties, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith proposed Tuesday that all 10 FBS conferences operate under the College Football Playoff umbrella with their own rules and structure, while that the NCAA continues to host championships for basketball and Olympic sports.

Smith, who said he was “just throwing ideas around” in a brief interview with ESPN at the Big Ten spring meetings, said schools offering 85 scholarships “need different rules.” He said they could create minimum standards for membership.

“Us [can] create our own rules, create our own governance structure, have our own enforcement, we have our own requirements, whatever that is,” Smith said. “…That could be in the medical space, for example, if a student-athlete gets injured and hurt in their senior year. You take care of them when they’re done until they’re healed. And we have the funds to do it. It doesn’t touch anything else with the NCAA. You keep the academic requirements in place. The reality is that those schools that offer 85 scholarships in soccer have made a different commitment and that needs to be addressed.”

I’d say this move would be in the best interest of everyone involved, but without looking at the financials, I have a feeling it would cost the NCAA an amount of money my middle-class brain just can’t fathom.

But at the end of the day, I’m not sure the NCAA really has much bargaining power here, one way or another. Eventually the FBS will just do what’s best. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some drastic changes on that front in the near future.

BRAVE MEN INC. Do you know what is better than beating cancer? Beat cancer, then turn around and help a bunch of others do the same.

That is exactly what Dimitrious Stanley is doing.

A big hello to Mr. Stanley. Any enemy of cancer is a friend of mine.

SONG OF THE DAY. “Snow” by Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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