Kyle Whittingham On NIL: Grumbling Won’t Help, Adapt Or Get Behind

Oct 20, 2022, 10:53 AM
Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham walks along the sideline as Utah and Florida play in Gainesvillle, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. (Courtesy of Deseret News)
(Courtesy of Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY- Utah head football coach Kyle Whittingham joined DJ & PK Thursday morning to discuss all things Utah football, and particularly NIL (Name, Image, Likeness). Before the Utes’ game against USC last week, Whittingham caused a bit of a stir with some comments he made on the subject. Whittingham, however, isn’t pointing fingers or blaming anyone, but acknowledging the game of college football has drastically changed because of NIL and people either need to “adapt or get behind” in its wake.

You can listen to the full interview below.

Whittingham On Utah And NIL

“First of all, I never, ever comment on this stuff unless someone asks,” Whittingham said. “Sometimes things come out and it sounds like I was whining about things- that’s hardly the case. That’s not the case, but if people ask, I’ll give you my opinion.”

In the here and now, Whittingham says most schools and coaches are in a no-win situation. You need to keep kids in your program to build continuity, but how do you tell someone to turn down life-changing money? Whittingham basically said that you can’t.

“It’s really free enterprise,” Whittingham said of NIL. “How can you tell a kid that is being offered a million dollars by a school, ‘hey, don’t take that million bucks’? That’s life changing money, and so in a way, it’s selfish and short-sighted to discourage a kid from doing that. At the same time, it’s the new way, I guess you could say. I don’t see it changing unless the NCAA or the state-level puts restrictions on it. It’s tough to blame a kid for taking an offer like that.”

There have been many coaches that have retired because of what NIL has done to college sports, but there are also fans who have voiced dissatisfaction over the amount of money it now takes to enjoy a college sport. Whittingham had a very blunt, and realistic take on the matter- you can either jump on board, or watch the program die, but complaining changes nothing in the here and now.

“It’s either adapt or get left behind,” Whittingham said. “You can’t sit there and grumble about it or complain about it because it’s not going to change. You have the option to jump in with both feet, and try to keep pace, or this isn’t what I initially signed up for, this isn’t my cup of tea, so I’ll exit. I’m not saying which camp I’m in right now, I’m just trying to navigate through this season and win as many games as we possibly can.”

As for where the Utes currently stand on NIL? Whittingham says it is something that is constantly on their minds while building the 2023 recruiting class. Utah does have some structures in place to bring in NIL money, but as Whittingham said, that’s ultimately up to the donors and boosters. Utah or any other university cannot directly have anything to do with it.

“We are trying, we are trying every day,” Whittingham said. “It’s a topic of conversation in every staff meeting pretty much as far as the kids we are recruiting and who is offering what, and where we are in the situation. We have guys in the department here who are dedicated fulltime to getting NIL funds and sources- it ultimately comes down to your donors and boosters stepping up. We can’t- the universities themselves can’t put anything in the pot. That’s against the NCAA specifically, so it’s got to come from outside resources and we’re trying to make strides each day in that regard.”

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Kyle Whittingham On NIL: Grumbling Won’t Help, Adapt Or Get Behind