Most of you might not get the Yakov Smirnoff reference, and that's ok. We are here to talk about the NIL. When the NIL rules went into effect, my first thought was, "How can this benefit the MAC conference?" (Forgive me, I have been away for a while). Actually, my first thought was that I need to start writing again. Anyway, my little pea brain raced with ideas on how this ruling could positively affect the conference that I love, while also racing to find out how I could troll Hustle Belt readers. We are going to talk about the first.
My first idea was, forget paying the "money makers" as there is no way the MAC can compete with the bigger schools. I read that an OSU Lacrosse player got a 50k deal, and I know that's because that's a pet project of some higher ups in OSU. If an OSU Lacrosse player is getting that, what are the football players going to sign for? So let's get the local car dealerships to pay some of the women's basketball players, and that could help with recruiting, and maybe that would lead to another couple of sweet 16 runs. That was fun.
However, I remembered another story. Years back, Nebraska had this thing where Nebraska kids would walk on, and the community would pay for their schooling. It was a way to beat the limited scholarships. Maybe, here in MACland, instead of the local Automall paying one kid that happens to be a star, their money might be better spent paying the team, including non-scholarship athletes. Sales is a numbers game. So is recruiting. I would rather have 100 2 star recruits than 2 5 star recruits. Sure, those super stars might turn into Superstars, but they might not. Out of 100 "average recruits", you are going to get a Corey Davis and Kareem Hunt. Another example from the past, Dayton was a D3 college football team that would put a star or two on a basketball scholarship. Those extras helped pave the way to 2 national championships.
Make your favorite MAC school a place where talented kids that might not have a scholarship offer a place where they can go and play a sport they love. These kids will have a chip on their shoulder, and most wont pan out, but some will. Those that don't pan out on the field will still be great practice players. If you have 3 "extra" scholarship players on a basketball team, and one of those turns into a starter, what happens? You go from a 22 win team that gets shut out of the NCAA tournament for finishing second in the conference tournament, to a 27 win team that might get an at-large.