Mike Tomlin supports college players getting paid for their likeness. But as he often does, he speaks to the unintended consequences of the idea.
Tomlin was asked about his thoughts on the subject on the Beyond The Lights podcast with Jalen Buck McCain.
“This is America,” Tomlin said. “I’m into the American way and a guy having the opportunity to earn a living. But I do have some reservations about the unintended consequences of the policy and what it means. When we get guys at 21 and 22, we train them in a big way in terms of the platform that is the National Football League and how they manage their money. The decision-making that comes with the money. If guys are getting an opportunity to earn money off their likeness and their ability to perform, [they need to be] properly educated and trained to make good decisions relative to it.”
This debate has gone on for years in the college football landscape. Most recently, the NCAA has seemingly taken small steps in that direction though we’re still likely years away from players actually getting paid. There are logistical hurdles to clear – who gets paid, who doesn’t, and how much. Tomlin’s speaking to what happens after players get paid and if there’s a path set for those to follow in order to make smart financial decisions. All too often, athletes, even professional ones, mismanage money and lose everything they’ve earned.
“I don’t know if some of the guys are old enough or mature enough to absorb that type of responsibility that comes with money. I don’t know if they’ve been properly trained or going to be properly trained in an effort to properly utilize it.”
Allowing players to profit off likeness would also bring back the NCAA video games. They were cancelled after Ed O’Bannon’s successful lawsuit years ago. The last college football game to come out was NCAA 14. A game so sought after it’s selling for well over $100 online.
Tomlin summed up his feelings this way.
“I want the kids to get the money but I want the kids to get the education prior to the money. I want them to get the skills that’ll allow them to make good of the money.”
At the risk of editorializing an article on Tomlin’s thoughts, financial literacy is crucially an underdeveloped skill in so many people, young and grown adults alike. There’s limited education on the matter growing up; my only exposure to financial dealings in school was a short economics course in high school, “buying” stock with fake money for a semester. And that’s still more than what some students get. Ultimately, the NCAA won’t be changing policy anytime soon and it’ll be a prolonged fight to turn the tide.
Check out the rest of the interview at the link below.