The ability for college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness will likely always be a polarizing debate. But West Virginia state senator Joe Manchin has made sure everyone is fully aware how he truly feels about NIL.
Tuesday marked the tenth congressional hearing on NIL. Manchin was among big time names like NCAA President Charlie Baker, Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick to speak during the two-and-a-half-hour session that covered topics ranging from NIL and athlete employment to the Israel-Hamas war.
Once the hearing was over, Manchin’s comments were the ones getting the most traction and reaction. “It’s hard to root for the kids when they’re multi millionaires as freshmen and sophomores,” said Manchin. This was the comment that garnered the most backlash on social media.
The 76-year-old Fairmont native did not stop there. “If it’s all about chasing the dollar, that’s not what it was designed to be. If that’s it, go from high school to the pros!” Manchin added with emotion.
Sen. Joe Manchin on college sports: "If it’s all about chasing the dollar, that’s not what it was designed to be. If that’s it, go from high school to the pros!"
There is, of course, a rule against high school football players immediately moving to the NFL.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) October 17, 2023
People brought up two main points to counter the feelings of Manchin, and anyone else who agrees with what he said. One of these counters is the fact that prior to the advent of NIL, college athletes helped schools and corporations generate millions of dollars while the player was unable to legally cash in.
Some then argued student athletes were receiving scholarships and a free education. A counter argument was made that if a free scholarship saved a student $200,000, for example, that money would not come close to equal what was being generated. They said that’s especially in the case of mega super-star athletes and name brand institutions.
The other counter mentioned is the hypocrisy of a senator from West Virginia to be publicly against NIL. West Virginia University, a school that means as much to its state as any school in the country for a myriad of reasons, has jumped right into the deep end of NIL.
Not only does WVU benefit from the ‘Country Roads Trust’ NIL collective, but it’s widely known the WVU men’s basketball program has enjoyed the help of County Roads Trust and other donors when it comes to recruiting transfer players. Just in the last few months, WVU has looked to the NIL bank repeatedly.
First, this was done in an attempt to help Hall of Fame coach Bob Huggins win the National Championship that alluded him. But the collective had to then kick into gear again when Huggins found himself in the midst of multiple scandals that ended his tenure as leader of the Mountaineers. The players that have remained at the school under now interim head coach Josh Eilert were reportedly offered NIL increases and others who have since been added did not come without a price.
“By the way, the entire college sports industry knows how much West Virginia paid for some of its basketball transfers this year. I assume Joe is going to boycott the season out of principle,” reporter Dan Wolken of USA Today sarcastically mentioned.
By the way, the entire college sports industry knows how much West Virginia paid for some of its basketball transfers this year. I assume Joe is going to boycott the season out of principle. https://t.co/9nzgH6Nxjp
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) October 17, 2023
The WVU football program is far from shying away from the assistance of NIL, even if the fruits of that labor have not been as evident just yet.
Now to be fair to Manchin, he is certainly not the only person to harbor such strong sentiments against NIL and what it represents in college athletics. But with that said, it’s still somewhat shocking to see such a prominent figure be so outspoken about something when it directly conflicts with the actions of the major school in his state.
Note: This article does not reflect any political opinions of the author or anyone else affiliated with WV Sports Now. It simply stands as a piece about the opinion of Joe Manchin concerning NIL in college sports. Manchin’s comments are relevant due to the impact of NIL on WVU and college athletics as a whole, both extensively covered by WV Sports Now.
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