How the Bison are navigating the changing waters of College Football with NIL

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 10:04 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - It’s been a little over a year since the NCAA has ruled that College Athletes can profit off of their name, image, and likeness. And athletes across the country have been cashing in. Some of the more lucrative deals we’ve seen so far have been worth millions of dollars, including a 9.5 million dollar deal for a high school quarterback that recently signed with the Miami Hurricanes. While these incentive-based NIL programs grow across the country, the Bison Football team has seen their players take advantage of what Coach Matt Entz calls merit-based deals.

“That’s how I saw the rule originally was you have to provide these companies or these people who want to provide NIL with something.” Entz said. “It was merit-based. I think what you’re seeing here locally was what the rule was intended to be.”

“A lot of those schools have bigger opportunities and you see a different NIL Story every week about them.” said Senior Receiver Phoenix Sproles. “Here we don’t really hear about them as much.”

Sproles is just one of the Bison athletes to take advantage of this ruling. The Senior Wide Receiver has promoted multiple businesses to his thousands of followers on social media. National Champion Quarterback Cam Miller also made a deal recently. He’s been the star in a series of commercials for a local mattress company. While these athletes are happy to be able to use their influence to make some income. They say the focus on this team is football first.

“I feel like it’s a really good thing for college football, to an extent.” Miller said. “If your focus is still on football and not making money then you’re doing the right thing.”

“We’re still football. We’re football football.” Sproles added. “NIL deals, they’ll come, it’s not really a main focus but they help out whenever it’s needed. And they do a good job setting guys up for success with NIL.”

NIL deals have made recruiting athletes an even more difficult task, with some choosing where they go based on the NIL programs. Coach Entz told us earlier this offseason that they lost three recruits because different schools had better NIL Incentives. Entz told us that some changes may have to be made if the Bison want to continue to compete.

“I don’t know if we can sit here and say we’re going to ignore it because it won’t go away.” said Entz. “My job is to make sure I protect this program and put the best product on the field. If that means we need to expand some way in NIL then we probably need to do some research and start looking into that.”

What those changes may be within the Bison athletic department remains to be seen. But they have made it clear that they will look to evolve with the College Football landscape, while staying true to North Dakota State.

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