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Texas A&M announces NIL program

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The amateurism train is leaving the station

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In this photo illustration one hundred US dollar banknotes... Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As states across the country (including Texas) enact laws allowing college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL) may soon cause a seismic shift in how college football operates, and Texas A&M is looking to keep up with this trend. On Thursday the athletic department announced the creation of “AMPLIFY,” a comprehensive Name, Image and Likeness program designed to equip Aggie student-athletes with tools and training to maximize their brand and platform.

Similar programs have already been launched at Alabama, Texas and Texas Tech within the past week.

”As we enter a new era in college sports, Texas A&M has the grand ability to be a leader in the name, image, and likeness space so that we can support our student-athletes at the highest level,” Texas A&M Director of Athletics Ross Bjork said. “Our new AMPLIFY platform provides Aggie athletes with the right tools and resources so that they are educated, well-informed and can capitalize to their full potential. Our job is to put our student-athletes in the best position for success on and off the fields of play, and AMPLIFY helps them reach their goals.”

Even though student athletes still can’t receive actual compensation from the use of their NIL, A&M’s program will help them take advantage of that opportunity when it presents itself, with education and resources related to personal branding, networking, finance, media training and more. Specific programs and topics include:

  • Building your digital brand
  • Financial workshops
  • Effective networking
  • Evaluating job opportunities and negotiating offers
  • Mock job interviews
  • Understanding the Aggie Network and Lettermen’s Association
  • Social media audit and analysis
  • Best practices
  • Creating custom content for your brand

Honestly a lot of this is things that schools should be providing for their athletes whether they get NIL compensation or not, and much of it is applicable for these student athletes even if they “go pro in something other than sports.” They are thrust into the spotlight of big time college football, and A&M should be obligated to providing training on how to handle (and take advantage of) that spotlight.

I’ve long maintained that clearing the way for players to profit from their name, image and likeness was the best way to solve the seeming inequalities in the power structure of college football. Yes, there are many athletes (in football as well as in other non-revenue sports) for whom a college scholarship is more than adequate compensation for the perceived value they provide to the athletic department. I’d say the vast majority, in fact. But it has never made sense to me that a football coach to make millions (and be allowed to make even more through outside endorsement deals) when star players who are just as pivotal to their team’s success are compensated with an annual scholarship worth tens of thousands and forbidden from earning outside income even in the form of a part-time job.

NIL potentially clears the path to lessen this disparity, all without crippling the school’s athletics budget and complying with Title IX laws. Many may claim it will be used for rampant cheating, with bag men funneling money to recruits and players under the guise of endorsements. But to that I say, it’s already happening. And if anything, having it happen out in the open may ultimately create a more level playing field (or at least a more transparent and easily understood one).