The end of the Coach K era is coming next April, but a new era of Duke men’s basketball has already begun.
The NIL era began when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the NCAA in an antitrust case on June 21. The court ruled that the NCAA could not restrict educational benefits to student-athletes. Fearing another trial with harsher consequences and the growing appeal of competitors like the NBA’s G League, the NCAA adopted a temporary rule allowing players to take advantage of their name, image and likeness (NIL) June 30.
The move sparked an avalanche of corporate partnerships with college athletes. Men’s basketball Duke is home to some of the most monetizable assets in the country, and it wasn’t long before players boarded the NIL train destined for prosperity.
“NIL didn’t happen when I signed up,” said first-year forward AJ Griffin, who signed with Duke in 2019. “I know the effect this has on the players is now huge. “
Look under your chairs …
It seems every Blue Devil wants a piece of the NIL pie. Griffin signed with CAA Basketball, the sports agency that represents Zion Williamson. Much like superstar Blue Devil, first-year striker Paolo Banchero. Banchero was ranked No. 4 in the country last year by ESPN and No. 2 by 247 Sports.
For Banchero, a player many believe to be drafted first in the 2022 NBA Draft, NIL profits seem like easy choices. In September, Banchero became the first college basketball player to appear in the NBA 2K series.
“[2K Sports] had contacted my father, ”Banchero said. “My dad asked me if I wanted to do it, and I was like ‘Sure’. No hesitation.”
The video game series is known around the world and sells around four million copies each year. Despite Banchero’s presence in the game, Griffin claims he is the best NBA 2K player on the team.
“It’s me. Sorry, I have to do it,” Griffin said. “I lost a few, but also won 10 in a row. The second best is between Jaylen [Blakes] or Paulo [Banchero]. “
Banchero then signed a multi-year collectible card deal with Panini America later in September. He became the first college basketball player to sign such a deal with Panini.
It’s not just headliners like Banchero getting into the NIL action. Junior forward Wendell Moore Jr. and senior guard Joey Baker, both captains and North Carolina natives, have signed deals with beloved fried chicken restaurant chain Bojangles.
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“I’ve grown up eating Bojangles my whole life, so I was happy to take it when they approached me,” Baker said.
It seems like a prudent move on their part in the age of the fried chicken sandwich. However, the financial details of the endorsements are obscure. When Baker was asked if he was getting free chicken sandwiches from Bojangles, he laughed and replied, “No.”
It appears, however, that they received an offer other than the chicken variety.
“Obviously that came with some compensation,” Moore said of his deal. “He also came up with corporate gift cards and stuff like that. So I guess I got some free money to go to Bojangles.
Moore announced in July that he had created a profile on Cameo, a website that allows celebrities to send personalized video messages to their fans, for a fee.
Four other Blue Devils have also signed for Cameo. A personalized message from first year goalie Trevor Keels, second year goalie Jeremy Roach, or graduate transfer Theo John costs $ 40. You will, however, have to shell out $ 45 for a Moore video and $ 50 for one by sophomore center Mark Williams.
“I love to interact with people,” Keels said. “Cameo was an opportunity that I took full advantage of. I love doing them, interacting with the fans is awesome. I wish I had had this when I was younger.
These five players hosted a special Duke men’s basketball event on October 28. A two-minute video call with one of the players costs $ 25. This means that each player won $ 282 in just half an hour, while Cameo took the rest.
That’s almost 80 times the minimum wage in North Carolina. Not bad.
A pact with the Devils
But do Cameo appearances and the NIL deals mean it’s worth giving up on the G League? The answer doesn’t seem clear for the top talent Duke attracts. Players like Banchero are probably making tens of thousands of dollars with their NIL offers, maybe even hundreds of thousands. Combined with free tuition, free room and board (around $ 80,000 per year), playing Duke earns you a large amount of rewards.
The G League is certainly not as supportive of endorsement as men’s basketball Duke. Best Rookie 2020 Jalen Green has only signed his seven-figure contract with Adidas after finishing a season in the league and was screened as a top-three pick.
However, scholarships and NIL deals don’t seem to keep pace with G League salaries. Green won $ 500,000 in his only season in the G League. That didn’t affect his draft status, as the Rockets took him with the second overall pick. Green will earn over $ 9 million in his rookie year.
Additionally, the market value of a sponsorship deal with a Duke player is removed as the Blue Devils may not display any Duke logos in advertisements unless approved by the University, in accordance with Duke’s NIL policy. In Moore and Baker’s ads for Bojangles, neither wore or displayed the Duke logos.
But for solid players without the star quality of Banchero, like Moore and Baker, picking Duke may have been the better option. G League salaries for players who aren’t the crown jewels of their recruiting classes are almost laughable – the base salary is $ 37,000 this season. NIL chords combined with the Duke lifestyle and emphasis on player development can lead to better outcomes for the many players who are not college superstars.
Details of the NIL
We still don’t know much about the future of NIL. In many ways this year is kind of an experiment to see what effect the NIL policy has on gamers, Duke and college sports in general. The NCAA’s decision to suspend NIL restrictions was only temporary, and the pendulum could turn the other way if things go wrong this year.
One area of NIL policy that is controversial is that of group licensing. This is where athletes pool their NIL rights and collectively authorize them as a group. For example, a company might want Moore, Roach, and Banchero to all endorse their product and would simply negotiate with all the players as some sort of union.
Rival Duke’s Tobacco Road, North Carolina, instituted a group licensing policy in July. The university has partnered with The Brandr Group, a licensing agency, to create licenses using the logos and images of North Carolina players. Duke has yet to release a group licensing policy.
Perhaps this is because group licensing is a dangerous tool. The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, a nonprofit group that focuses on educating college athletes, wrote in an FAQ article: “The problem is that group licenses will become a new tool for recruiting students. varsity athletes and will turn into a form of pay for playing. . “
Former Duke athletic director Kevin White said he was concerned about the prospect of the NCAA allowing players to take advantage of the NIL in June 2020. Among his many concerns about politics, he feared Olympic sports and athletes women are treated unfairly. White retired in September, leaving current athletic director Nina King under the microscope.
Only time will tell if NIL politics is a disaster for the Duke men’s basketball program and the legacy of head coach Mike Krzyzewski. King and new head coach Jon Scheyer, who have publicly backed the policy, will face the consequences together. Maybe the money will tear the locker room like some reviewers have suggested.
But maybe the North Carolina players will sign a deal with Popeyes, giving each school a fried chicken identity and injecting Cajun spices into the old rivalry. We will have to cross our fingers, lick our chops and hope for the latter.
Editor’s Note: This article is one of many in The Chronicle’s men’s basketball season preview. Find the rest here.