Florida head football coach Dan Mullen questioned if the offer by Golden Cane and MMA Gym American Top Team owner Dan Lambert to every Miami football player for a $6,000 per year endorsement was legal. Speaking to reporters at SEC Media Days on Monday Mullen was asked about the offer and responded “Is that legal?”
With their location in South Florida and as a gateway to Latin America, the Miami football program is in as good of a position as any for their players to profit off of their own name, image and likeness. As long as a college athletic department does not get involved and broker deals, players are free to seek their own agreements.
Bill Bender of The Sporting News credited Miami with being the most aggressive in terms of its players acquiring NIL deals. Bender credited the success of the Miami football players to being in one of the largest FBS markets with the desire from the Hurricanes fan base for them to return to their glory era.
Mullen knew exactly what he was doing even if he was facetious. Under Manny Diaz, the Miami Football program has returned to being a threat during the last two recruiting cycles. Miami signed the 17th class in Diaz’s first full cycle in 2020 and the 11th ranked class in 2021. Mullen elaborated on the Gators NIL potential.
“I think if it is, there’s obviously going to be a lot of Gators support and there (are) people to do.. it…My biggest deal is, how do we make sure that is legal? … I don’t need to find myself in prison for violating rules that we’re not sure that I’m even violating. I talk to my financial team to make sure we stay within those boundaries.
But let’s make sure we’re taking advantage of the different laws that are on there.”
Mullen knows would not go to prison over NIL. This is not the Adidas scandal that rocked college basketball in 2017. The Florida compliance department will make sure any deals that are made by Florida players are legitimate. Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times reported that state law in Florida prevents players from being paid directly.
Players can only receive market value for appearances like autograph signings, meet-and-greets, or sponsored social media posts. Any student with a social media presence has the opportunity to pursue the same. Baker continued that the Gators’ NIL policy prevents boosters from playing players or arranging payment for them.
The problems lie that different college football programs will interpret the laws and NCAA rules differently. Mullen said the NIL will be “a big learning curve.” While the NIL laws and opportunities will continue to evolve, Miami has seized the opportunity and per Bender has clearly been out in front of possibilities for their players.
The shot from Mullen towards the Miami football program was necessary but not entirely unexpected. Half facetious comments that can affect recruiting go on all the time in private and public. Miami head coach Manny Diaz was twice the defensive coordinator for Mullen at Mississippi State. They understand each other.