Deion Sanders Criticizes NIL Contracts, Says Athletes Are 'Acting Like Professionals'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVMay 11, 2022

JSU football coach Deion "Prime" Sanders prepares his team for the start of the annual spring football game. (William H. Kelly/University Communications/Jackson State University via Getty Images)
William H. Kelly/University Communications/Jackson State University via Getty Images

Jackson State head football coach Deion Sanders has an issue with the way college football is trending in the new name, image and likeness era.

"When you start paying athletes like they're professionals, you get athletes acting like they're professionals," Sanders said in a video he directed at the NCAA and posted on Twitter. "And you don't have staffs large enough and equipped enough to handle a young man with money. Let me go deeper. Handle a young man that's making more money than some of the coaches on staff."

COACH PRIME @DeionSanders

⁦<a href="https://twitter.com/NCAA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NCAA</a>⁩ YOU HAVE A PROBLEM! I’m trying to help before it blows up in your face. Money Makes You More Of Who You Really Are. Now think about that for a minute. God bless u all. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CoachPrime?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#CoachPrime</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZbncNK2PDt">pic.twitter.com/ZbncNK2PDt</a>

He also said smaller programs cannot compete with larger ones when it comes to paying athletes and suggested schools should be allowed to hire more coaches.

"I suggest to you to allow college teams to hire more qualified men," he said. "Qualified. That can handle these young men that's getting this money."

Sanders is not the first coach to raise concerns after the NCAA instituted an interim policy that went into effect on July 1 and allowed athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness.

Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports shared concerns from a number of coaches and athletic directors, many of whom were in favor of student-athletes having the opportunity to get paid but saw potential issues with boosters, tampering and the amount of money that can be involved.

"Different creates uncertainty, and uncertainty creates doubt," Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self said. "I don't see a lot of positives right now with the [transfer] portal and NIL stuff."

Ohio State football coach Ryan Day said he is "all for players making money off their name, image and likeness" but highlighted "a lot of unrest because we all feel like there's no rules—or the rules that are there are not being enforced."

The NCAA attempted to add more clarity Monday when the Division I Board of Directors released guidelines intended to prevent boosters and booster-led collectives from being involved in recruiting.

While the new guidelines can be retroactive and open up schools to punishments for their actions during the period the interim policy was in place, they are intended to provide more stability in the future.

"The NCAA is reminding people to enforce rules regarding NIL and recruiting, but anything before today likely won't be pursued unless it's really blatant," Chris Vannini of The Athletic wrote.

Despite the guidelines in place, Sanders—who is a Pro Football Hall of Famer and two-time Super Bowl champion who made $33.6 million in earnings during his NFL career—is worried about student-athletes acting like professionals with the opportunity to make money during their collegiate careers.