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

May the 4th be with you all.

Word of the Day: Mercurial.

RIP NIL COLLECTIVES? The current NIL situation has become so much of an unmitigated disaster that the NCAA has actually decided to do something about it – or at least try.

After several months of NIL collectives handing out proverbial six and seven-figure bags to secure commitments without even attempting 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 boosters and booster-led collectives are prohibited from involvement in recruiting, multiple sources tell Sports Illustrated. The guidelines will provide more guidance to member schools on what many administrators say are NIL-disguised “pay for play” deals orchestrated by donors to induce prospects, recruit players off other college teams and retain their own athletes.

The new directives will highlight existing NCAA bylaws that outlaw boosters from participating in recruiting, reminding member schools of guardrails that, while in place for years, have been bent and broken during the first 10 months of the NIL era, officials say. Under a long-held NCAA rule, boosters are a representative arm of an athletic department and are not supposed to associate with or persuade prospects.

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

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

My initial reaction here is *extremely Tasks villain voice* Good Luck.

I sincerely appreciate the NCAA trying to do something productive here – a welcomed change, indeed! – but it just feels like there’s no way they’ll be able to enforce this, especially with basically every lawyer involved with these collectives openly bragging about how rock-solid their contracts are in accordance with NCAA rules.

The general vibe from 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 at the very least, it might force all of these cash-for-commitment deals back under the table where they belong.

“I ENJOYED MY TIME AT OHIO STATE.” 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 that he first had to discuss his decision to go to – and leave – Ohio State.

And now that I’m writing this Players’ Tribune article, I know y’all have questions. The biggest one probably being: Why UT now? Why did I go all the way to Ohio State in the first place?

… Can I be honest with y’all?

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 might have been even more pressure the second time around.

Finding a balance between inside and outside expectations has always been challenging for me. On the outside, from the trolls to the people who love you, inviting so many opinions and perspectives into a choice 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 with also wanting to stay as humble as possible in order 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 really just tried to block out all the noise, and focus on what I wanted for myself. It took a lot of prayer, but I’m confident in the choice I made.

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

That was truly a masterclass in writing words and forming coherent sentences while still saying pretty much 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.” Past that, I’m not sure what you can really expect him to say.

DON’T NEED THE NCAA. Media folks and fans have been talking about it online for years, but now Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith is finally saying it openly and on the record from a position of power – FBS football actually doesn’t need the NCAA.

In fact, it would probably be better off without it.

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

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

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

I’d say this move would be best for everyone involved, but without looking at the financials, I have a hunch that it would cost the NCAA an amount of money that my middle-class brain simply cannot comprehend.

But at the end of the day, I’m not sure the NCAA really has a lot of bargaining power here, one way or another. So eventually, the FBS is just going to do what’s best. I wouldn’t be shocked if we see some drastic changes on that front in the near future.

BRAVE MEN INC. You know what’s better than beating cancer? Beating cancer, then turning around and helping a bunch of others do the same.

That’s exactly what Dimitrious Stanley is doing.

Big shoutout 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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