Dabo Swinney 'Excited' for NIL Benefits for Players, Clemson RB Darien Rencher Says

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 1, 2021

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney reacts in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Syracuse in Clemson, S.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (Ken Ruinard/Pool Photo via AP)
Ken Ruinard/Pool Photo via AP

Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has apparently had a change of heart regarding college athletes receiving monetary compensation.

Tigers running back Darien Rencher said on ACC Network's Packer and Durham (h/t ESPN's David M. Hale) that Swinney is "excited" that athletes get to profit off their name, image and likeness:

"He kind of catches some things that get out of context, but he's excited for us to make the most of the opportunity. He's equipping us with everything as much as they can to make sure we have as much content and as much connections as we can. I feel like Clemson's been set up to win for a very long time and now we kind of get released to be all we can be."

Swinney said in 2014 he'd "go do something else" if college athletes started getting paid.

With legislation set to go into effect in multiple states, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors approved interim measures that opened the door for athletes across the country to begin receiving money for their name, image and likeness starting Thursday.

Many people are having fun with Swinney's past comments:

Ryan Clark @Realrclark25

Go ahead and throw my name into the hat for the Clemson Head Coaching job. Dabo said if student athletes starting making money he would go do something else!! Shoot, Clemson you can come get your boy for half the money. You know.. since it’s my very first coaching job!

Marlon Humphrey @marlon_humphrey

Didn’t Dabo say he was going to quit if athletes could get paid?🤔

LeVelle Moton @LeVelleMoton

Dabo not leaving that $90mill for nobody 😂😂

ProFootballTalk @ProFootballTalk

Vaya con Dabo. <a href="https://t.co/ixBHp1wIXT">https://t.co/ixBHp1wIXT</a>

As the winds began changing on the NIL front in 2019, Swinney appeared to have altered his stance.

"I’m hopeful that something positive can come from it," he said after the NCAA announced it was going to weigh possible NIL changes. "It’s really created great conversation and it sounds like they’re getting a group of smart people together to figure out what they need to do to address it, but keep it within the collegiate model and value education and all those things."

Regardless of what Swinney might have thought about paying student-athletes years ago, he and Clemson were bound to adapt to the times. Otherwise, the Tigers risked falling behind the top programs in the country. Legendary Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski did a similar 180 on one-and-done players.

The State noted Clemson has partnered with Opendorse since 2015 "for education and content delivery." Opendorse says it can "help athletes and their supporters understand, build, protect and monetize their brand value."

In July 2020, athletic director Dan Radakovich referenced Clemson's partnership with the company and wrote that Tigers athletes would "have the best tools at their disposal" if the NIL landscape changed.

For generations, college football coaches and administrators have worked to get a leg up on the competition. Name, image and likeness is the next front in the battle.