NIL is a touchy topic these days. Especially when it’s Pat Narduzzi talking about it.
After Narduzzi touched upon NIL in college football at the ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte last week, which is hardly a new concept when it comes to college coaches speaking out, he received backlash from national publications.
“If I were Narduzzi, I’d probably focus on how to get my players in the best possible financial situation,” The Athletic’s Ari Wasserman concluded his editorial last week. “Or pretend as though I cared about their financial futures. Or, at the very least, consider putting a lid on saying things that could alienate the recruits you’re fighting like hell to get … and keep.”
Hit piece aside, Narduzzi reiterated his point at Pitt’s media day Wednesday at Pitt’s first media session of the summer. And it wasn’t Narduzzi calling for a cap on what college players can make in NIL deals.
“Again, when I say salary cap, the NFL has it,” Narduzzi said. “I’m not saying the salary cap has to be down (low). It could be $20 million we can spend. I don’t care what it is, but get something where we all know that’s what we have to be at. I’d like to go to Heather (Lyke) and say, ‘Hey, everybody else has got 20, so we need $20 million.’ That’s it. What are we going to do?
“To not know what everybody’s doing, you’re sitting there guessing. You don’t know what it is. It’s hard to design. Hey, guess what, we’ve got 85 scholarships. I want to make sure I’ve got 85. What if they said, you can have as many scholarships as you want, where does it end? How many do you know you can take or how many you can’t take? Everybody who wants 125 scholarships can have 125 scholarships?”
Pitt, of course, is well aware of how NIL is a blessing and a curse. While Pitt’s players have used NIL opportunities to give back, with Phil Jurkovec, Byron Floyd and David Green using it to fundraise this season, Jordan Addison was the first controversial exit created by the NIL opportunities.
Pitt has its own NIL initiatives, including Alliance 412, which is the leading resource when it comes to NIL opportunities for Pitt athletes, but it certainly pales in comparison to other programs in the country. The Texas A&Ms and Miamis of the world have very, very, very deep pockets. Narduzzi’s main point, it seems, is parity.
“Again, regulation, I want (the players) to make as much money as they can, but we’ve got to put a lid on it so everybody knows what the limit is There’s limits to everything. … There’s got to be a limit somewhere.”
Narduzzi doesn’t know if Pitt is at a disadvantage across college football, since NIL numbers aren’t often bandied about, but he thinks Pitt isn’t alone.
“There’s disadvantages across the country,” Narduzzi said. “It wouldn’t be just us. But the more fannies you put in the stands, the more alumni that you have. If you’ve got 17,000 alumni — think about if every alumnus gave 100 bucks what you could have. All that stuff matters. There’s got to be some limit.”
There are a lot of discussions going on surrounding NIL in college football, and college athletics in general, but there isn’t a clear-cut solution. And there likely won’t be one any time soon.