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Tom Izzo on the NCAA handling NIL: 'I don't know who is running the ship sometimes'

On3 imageby:Andrew Graham06/07/24


Michigan State head men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo has not been shy about voicing his displeasure with the current state of college athletics, particularly the combination of the transfer portal and NIL.

Specifically, Izzo has been at odds with using NIL as pay-for-play merging with the transfer portal and how the NCAA has seemingly been slow or failing to respond adequately. Izzo addressed the Detroit Economic Club and further expanded on his issues in a video shared by SpartanRivals.

“This came about so fast and [athletic director] Alan [Haller] is, and we are, trying to get our arms around it,” Izzo said. “It is an ever-moving problem that is changing. I mean, the NCAA is sometimes like government. I don’t know who is running the ship sometimes and I’m on every board I can be on, just about every board I can be on, fighting. I just don’t want to say ‘I’ll do whatever the rules say.’ I think as leaders, part of our job is to help make the rules the best for the long haul.”

Izzo sought to make a distinction in his views: He supports NIL as defined — players getting paid for appearances of use of their image — but not the current paradigm where permissive rules and the transfer portal have effectively ushered in free agency for college sports.

Given the approval of the settlement in the House lawsuit against the NCAA, college athletics are headed toward a future of revenue sharing and directly paying athletes that Izzo might not be interested in.

“And sometimes when you’re given too much at an early age, as we see with movie stars or we see with people in music, it’s never a great ending,” Izzo said. “And so finding the happy medium of doing what we can do for these student-athletes but yet realizing that there’s a process to being successful. I know my wife has tried to put me in the transfer portal a lot, but I’m still there. You know, you don’t get to just transfer out of everything. And Robin’s right. The combination of the transfer portal and the NIL and with the true version of the NIL — like I’m 100 percent for the true version of the NIL if name, image and likeness can make you money. I’m not interested in pay-for-play.”

Izzo also sought to defend his outlook as being more holistic for the long-term success and wellbeing of his players.

“Our jobs used to be, when Alan played and I coached these young bucks, the job used to be, ‘In four years, I’ve got to make boy a man,'” Izzo said. “And to make a boy a man, then I’ve got to make sure it helps you be successful, not for the first 22 years, but the next 70.”