George Kliavkoff, commissioner of the Pac-12, has never known his job without NIL. July 1st, 2021 was the same day both he took over the league and that NIL legislation went into effect. With the foundation of college athletics moving underneath him, he had to hit the ground running when he started.
As it continues to expand, though, Kliavkoff wants to see the issues with NIL resolved sooner rather than later. In an interview with The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach, he says NIL isn’t having its intended effect because of its current misuse.
“It’s unfortunate that we’re not enforcing the rules that we’ve all agreed on, the rules that are already in place. I’m in favor of NIL, but I do think that it’s important that we start enforcing the three rules that everyone’s agreed to,” said Kliavkoff. “It should not be used for inducements. It should not be used for pay-for-play. The amount paid should be commensurate with the work, which is often referred to as quid pro quo. If we enforce those three rules, I think it would be a great system. I think our student-athletes would benefit, and it wouldn’t be causing the chaos that it’s currently causing in recruiting.”
The lack of overarching regulations on the NIL front continues to be the focus. The lack of conformity has allowed some schools to take an early advantage. To some, it comes across as an unfair one. Those sentiments won’t change until the NCAA gets serious about a system that keeps everyone, including the Pac-12, under the same umbrella.
In Kliavkoff’s opinion, regulating boosters and collectives is where that effort needs to start. While he believes they should be free with athletes in the programs, it’s on the recruiting trail where revisions are needed.
“What we’re really talking about is about boosters and collectives of boosters having no contact to student-athletes who are still prospective. Once a student-athlete has committed to a school, they should be allowed to talk to anyone about (NIL). The school should even be able to make those introductions,” said Kliavkoff. “But before a student commits, if you’re talking to that student about NIL, that is inducement. That is tampering.”
NIL isn’t the only major shift in college athletics, but it’s the storyline that continues to lead the way. Kliavkoff has the benefit in the Pac-12 that he never truly knew the business before it was a major player. Still, he, along with plenty of others across the NCAA, wants to see changes as we go deeper into the NIL years. The compensation of student-athletes has been long overdue. However, the precedent they set now in how that business is handled could have serious ramifications if it’s not ironed out.