MIRAMAR BEACH, Fla. — Be careful what you wish for was LSU football coach Brian Kelly’s message when discussing the way college football is progressing in player compensation.
Speaking after the first day of SEC Spring Meetings at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, Kelly stressed how amateurism has become so distorted that it is moving toward professionalism.
“This has turned into a runaway train that has moved well past a student-athlete and is moving too fast toward a professional contract,” Kelly said. “I don’t think that’s what the intention was. So we’re going to need some guidelines here before this gets thrown into Congress.”
While that might seem like it could be a good thing for players, Kelly sees a shadow side to that option. If college football becomes a professional sport, that would mean other elements of professional sports that players might not like.
“I don’t think they want contracts,” Kelly said. “I don’t think they want to be traded. I’m sure they don’t want to be cut. I’m sure they’re not going to like getting a call at 3 p.m. in the afternoon saying, ‘Hey, I don’t know but we traded you today to St. Bonaventure. Oh they don’t have a football team.'”
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Kelly said in his locker room, he wants equity, balance and a chance to educate players and help them with their name, image and likeness deals. But straight up paying them is not what he sees as a solution to this runaway train.
“Because if we go down that road, aren’t they really professionals?” Kelly said. “I’m a professional. I’m a professional in that respect. They’re student-athletes.”
Kelly had some solutions in mind, though. He said his first thing would be asking if it’s possible to get boosters out of the equation. He also wants more transparency for what some of the current NIL contracts look like.
“How can we reel this in and make sure the student-athletes have the ability to be educated so they have something that they can build on later?” Kelly said. “I think that’s what we’re all trying to get our hands on.”