NIL buyouts? One HBCU coach thinks that might be the move

NIL and the transfer portal have been a game-changers for college sports, and they are impacting HBCU coaches like Robert Jones.

The Norfolk State head coach posed an interesting proposition on Twitter/X on Monday night.

“Unpopular opinion: what if college players have buyouts like college coaches? Players/coaches should be able to go wherever they want BUT when a coach leave(s) he has to pay back a buyout clause usually. Well what about if a player leave(s) he pays a % of his new NIL deal? Hmmmm”

Jamarii Thomas, NIL, Norfolk State, HBCU
Norfolk State head coach Robert Jones will have to replace Jamarii Thomas, who is headed to South Carolina. (Steven J. Gaither/HBCU Gameday photo)

Jones’ question comes at an interesting time. NIL has been a reality for just under three years, and the transfer portal a little while longer. Both changes have altered the landscape of college sports as a whole, including college basketball. But a new NCAA rule now allows student-athletes to transfer from year-to-year without penalty as long as they are in good standing with their current school.

This combination basically equates to a student-athlete being a free agent on a year-to-year basis. While it is a win for players — who deserve to be compensated for their talents — the losers are the small-school coaches like Robert Jones.

Jones landed guard Jamarii Thomas via the transfer portal from UNC Wilmington last spring. Thomas had a standout season at NSU, winning MEAC Player of The Year honors while helping NSU to a regular season conference title. Thomas hit the portal following the season, first committing to VCU before finding a home at South Carolina.

While Norfolk State has a solid basketball history as an HBCU/small-school , it cannot compete with the pockets of a state flagship program like South Carolina, which can now use NIL collectives to legally compensate players instead of paying them under the table as many larger schools have been doing for decades.

Does Robert Jones have a point? Let us know in the comments below.

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