Maryland basketball coach Kevin Willard isnt a fan of how the Name, Image and Likeness era has quickly turned into the pay-for-play era.
“I tell you what, man, I can’t wait to find the portal. I think it’s, I’d like to see what it looks like. Because it must be unbelievable, because everybody jumps it. I’m thinking I want to jump in the portal and see where it takes me. I think there needs to be some drastic changes to what’s going on and where we are in the college landscape. I don’t think NIL is NIL right now. It’s not,” he said during an interview on Jeff Goodman’s Field of 68 podcast.
“Anyone that says it is, is lying. I’m all for these kids making money. I think they should make as much money as possible. I don’t think there should be any limits on how much they should make. But I don’t think it should be boosters. And this should be anyone connected to your university. Really make it a true name, image and likeness. And let them make as much money as possible.”
Willard said he wants to see athletes make money, but not as free agents going to the highest bidder like many are right now.
“If it was going on under the table back in the day, and people are going under the table and right now it’s, it’s not name, image and likeness. It’s just not what it is. And I think it’s you know, we’ re going to have a lot of decisions being made that aren’t for basketball or really education purposes anymore. I just think we’ve lost track, and we got to get back on track as college basketball, to really providing what we can provide and at the same time letting these kids make money off their name image and likeness and promote it, and let them do it. But at the same time, like, these collectives or these boosters, you know, promising $400,000 is just not name image and likeness,” he said.
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His solution? Pay players bonuses for postseason success.
“I think the easiest way to end this mess, is to have an NCAA Tournament bonus. I’ve been saying it for four to five years. You know, you bring tremendous value to your university when you go to the NCAA tournament. You get the recognition, you get the TV [money], So I think instead of, you know, taking $400 million out of the NCAA Tournament revenue and repurposing that back to the players that, you know, it’s like playoff bonuses. You make ‘A’ if you get to the first round, you get to the second round, you get ‘B.’ You get to the Sweet 16 … And the guys that win a national championship, like the Kansas guys this year, those guys should have got a bigger playoff chunk. And I think that just stops everything,” Willard said.
“Because if you’re not making the NCAA tournament, you know, we’re chartering [planes], we’re giving them every meal, we’re giving them an education. We’re spending a lot of money, we’re working with them, sports psychiatry, you know, chiropractors, massage therapists. And it’s not like when I played, when you took a 6 am flight home, you know, it’s much different. So I think [it would be smart] if the NCAA looked at it from the standpoint of rewarding the guys that really brought tremendous value to the university.”
The NIL debate aside, Willard reflected on how he decided to leave Seton Hall for Maryland.“I didn’t really think about it as a season was going on, you know, as the season started getting to the end and it was like, again, my wife and I, every year. I always have discussions about where we are. Do we want to make a move and, you know, as it got closer to the end of the season I looked at it from a family standpoint,” he said. “I just looked at it like, alright, I got to start looking at what jobs are going to be open, because if I am going to make a move, it’s got to be now. And I didn’t talk to Damon Evans until we lost on Friday night [in the NCAAs], I think I talked to him Saturday morning. And it was that was like the first time I talked to Damon, and then I talked to him when we landed. So it moved really fast. But as far as like, the conversations and them talking to me, it didn’t happen until we got we got killed in the NCAA Tournament.”
He said the local basketball powerbrokers have accepted him quickly.
“And you know, the high school coaches have been great. The AAU coaches have been great. I think this area has a really family vibe in the fact that I think they all respect each other. They all hate each other, at the same time they all love each other,” he said. “You know, it’s like a family, they don’t talk bad about each other, but they want to kill each other, but they love each other’s players, but they won’t take each other’s players. It’s really cool. It’s a cool vibe down here that I’m excited to be part of.”
Read on below for more from Willard on Mark Turgeon, his coaching staff, recruiting and more…