Sugar Bowl shows why NIL reform was a big win for athletes

The injury of Ole Miss Quarterback Matt Corral has sparked a lot of opinions about college football players retiring from bowl games. But it is also a reminder of the importance of the debate on name, image and likeness rights for varsity athletes.

Corral was injured in the Sugar Bowl, hauled to the locker room and returning to the Ole Miss sideline on crutches. Despite being a likely pick in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Corral had decided not to retire from the game, which several other prominent players have chosen to do. While some sports figures have shamed players for retiring, Corral’s injury was a reminder of the risk these players are taking when they are only months away from the life-changing generational wealth that comes from behind. ‘be drafted by the NFL.

Fortunately, Corral’s injury appears be just a sprain, and it probably won’t affect his pulling stock. Former college football players weren’t so lucky. Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu fall from a possible first-round pick to a seventh-round pick in the 2015 draft after an ACL tear in his final year. South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore, a possible first-round pick in the 2013 draft, ripped apart each ligament in his knee in a particularly horrific injury. He fell in the fourth round.

Neither Lattimore nor Ekpre-Olamu have found their place in the NFL. As well as losing careers in the NFL, the two lost the chance to make millions just by being drafted early. The same could have happened to Corral, but the switch to NIL laws would have helped lessen the shock.

College football has been a multi-million (and now multi-billion) dollar industry for years now, but neither Lattimore nor Ekpre-Olamu could have made any money with their own name when they played. While coaches, athletic directors, universities and the president of the NCAA made millions, players were limited to scholarships due to “amateurism.” Most players would never get the chance to win millions from the pros, and the few who did were still brutally injured from running out of life-changing money.

The change in NIL laws would have lessened the damage to Corral. He was one of many players to capitalize on the new reforms imposed on the NCAA by state laws. Corral had spear its own clothing line and has entered into a sponsorship deal with the largest licensed sports and entertainment collectibles company, Panini America. Missing that first-round deal would still hurt, but that would be mitigated by his own opportunities for college earnings, a benefit not offered to Lattimore or Ekpre-Olamu.

Nothing can make up for losing an NFL dream to catastrophic injury, but allowing athletes to sign sponsorship deals in an environment where every coach and administrator can make millions has always been a no-brainer. Thankfully, Corral won’t be another ‘what if’ story, but his injury is a reminder of how important wrestling NIL was and how good it was for the players’ futures that the NCAA was forced to accept. reforms.

Rachel J. Bradford