3. School embracing NIL policy
Even before the ruling went into effect, the state of Tennessee had passed a name-image-likeness bill on its own allowing college athletes to profit off themselves. The Supreme Court ruling on player compensation is a separate issue anyway. This is all murky to begin with, and the university had a plan in place to help players work that out.
Josh Heupel, however, is clearly much more encouraged about it than other coaches. He noted that this is an opportunity for Tennessee football and the players joining Rocky Top. Here’s a bit of what he said on why it’s such a big opportunity.
"“There’s not a better place in America to do that than Knoxville, Tennessee. Top five in every social media platform. You look at followership. You look at the city of Knoxville itself within this league, one of the most prominent cities. You look at national worldwide headquarters that are located in Tennessee, or in Knoxville, it’s a special place to come play college football, and everything and anything that you want to do in the game and outside of the game has been done at Tennessee and will be done again.”"
Obviously, as a quarterback who won a national championship in college this century, Heupel will have a greater appreciation for the opportunity than most. One of his players, though, Alontae Taylor, hasn’t taken advantage of it yet. Here is his reasoning why.
"“Right now my focus is camp and my focus is getting ready for the season. I know it’s kind of late, me being a senior I kind of look at it as kind of late down the road for me, so I actually haven’t tapped into the NIL very much. Do I plan on that? I don’t have an answer for that, but right now my focus is camp and this team and just making sure we are what we need to be.”"
At this point, Taylor seems to be waiting to make the right decision. Heupel’s stress on educating players about doing that suggests that the program is working with players like Taylor and that they are still continuing to hash out some details. Either way, the university is embracing this policy, and that’s a big deal going forward.