Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer believes NIL in college sports has evolved into 'cheating'

Since the United State Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in NCAA v. Alston in 2021, the landscape of college athletics has been irrevocably altered, with athletes now able to profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL).

It’s a development that has changed the way major-revenue programs and entire athletic departments operate, with schools amassing funds that they can offer to a prospective transfer or recruit rather than trying to woo them with lavish facilities and other, perhaps superfluous benefits.

One of the most successful and well-known coaches in college football history isn’t a fan of how NIL has evolved in college athletics over the past several years.

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In an appearance on the Lou Holtz Podcast, hosted by the eponymous former Notre Dame coach, former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer decried the way programs and universities use NIL now, describing it as “cheating.”

“I think NIL — and I sat in those committees for many, many years — I think it’s great,” Meyer said. “I think if it’s capitalism, for example, if a great player like Marvin Harrison Jr. and some car dealership in town wants to hire him, they want to put his name on a billboard and pay him money, sign autographs, he wants to put something on an Instagram or they sell that…but that’s not what’s happened, Coach. What’s happened is it’s cheating.”

On multiple occasions, Meyer, who coached the Buckeyes from 2012-18 and led them to a national championship in 2014, voiced his support for established standouts at a given school to capitalize off the value they’ve created for themselves.

He believes, though, that the original purpose of NIL has gone awry and is now financially benefitting incoming high-school recruits or transfers who have yet to prove themselves at a particular program.

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“America is built on name and likeness,” Meyer said. “If Lou Holtz or Urban Meyer or Marvin Harrison Jr., C.J. Stroud want to go use their name and help sell cars or help a business, that’s great. But to have a 17-year-old demand money for a visit or to pay these players a lot of money to go visit a charity for 20 minutes and they write a check for $50,000, that’s cheating. That’s not what this is all about. I’m very disappointed in where it went.”

Meyer also criticized the role of collectives, which pool together donations from boosters and other supporters of a program to give to athletes.

“If you’re a woman basketball player like the great girl from Iowa (Caitlin Clark) and they want to put her on a billboard and pay her, they should be able to do that,” he said. “But that’s not what happened. What’s happened is the arms race of collecting money from donors and the donors are simply paying players. That’s what I understand is happening and I don’t like that.”

Meyer is one of 15 coaches in FBS history with at least three national championships, having won one with Ohio State and two with Florida, in 2006 and 2008. He has been out of coaching since 2021, when he was fired as the coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars just 13 games into an ill-fated foray into the NFL, and currently works as a college football analyst for Fox Sports.

Holtz, who Meyer coached under at Notre Dame in 1996, began the segment with Meyer by saying that the presence of NIL “destroys my desire to coach in college football.” The 87-year-old Holtz hasn’t coached since retiring from South Carolina at the end of the 2004 season.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Urban Meyer believes NIL in college sports has evolved into 'cheating'