Amidst the debate about whether college sports are better or worse with the allowances for athletes to profit off name, image and likeness, former star quarterback Michael Vick brought up a way NIL can help the NCAA manage a different struggle it has had: keeping athletes in school.
Vick, who was drafted No. 1 overall in 2001 out of Virginia Tech and starred on the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL, said he would have stayed in college longer if he had an NIL deal.
“I wasn’t the guy who wanted to leave early, but because of circumstances in my life I felt like I was forced to leave early,” he said during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show.
“I wanted to enjoy that college experience, I feel like I was just growing into my own, growing into a man and I just didn’t want to make life super serious, but sometimes as a young man you’ve got to make adult decisions and that was the decision I made at the time.”
Vick redshirted his first season at Virginia Tech before starting as a sophomore and junior. The Hokies went 11-1 in both seasons and finished 1999 as the No. 2 team on the AP Poll.
Vick didn’t need to stay in college for his senior year to help his draft stock. But, he said, he would have wanted to live the college life and that he thinks he could have made “north of a million” dollars on an NIL deal.
His rookie contract was for $62 million over six years, about 10 times as much as his NIL projection, so it’s still tough to be convinced that it would have been enough to coax him. But if it had, the most electric athlete in the NCAA may have stayed for an extra year, which would have been great for college football.
Some of the most prominent high school athletes today are in similar NIL talks that Vick hypothesized. Would any other pro-ready athlete choose to remain in college for a year if money came along with it? NCAA men’s basketball in particular would benefit, as it could tamper down on some of the one-and-done players that have left a revolving door for the face of college basketball. Players who have chosen the G League or another alternative route may also be more strongly considering college. At the baseball level, many players get drafted out of high school and play in the minor leagues instead of college. Perhaps money here could sway them.
As for the Hokies, after going 22-2 over two years, they’re just left to wonder what a third season with Vick could have been.