College athletics changed forever on July 1 this year when the NCAA dramatically altered its model of amateurism by removing restrictions that prohibited athletes from profiting off of their name, image and likeness.
When the change went into effect the Twitterverse and some journalists dug up old quotes from Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and attempted to back him into a corner saying he opposed the NIL.
But in reality, Swinney supported the ability of student athletes to utilize their NIL so long as it did not professionalize collegiate athletics and take focus away from education and graduation. Swinney responded to the critics at the Clemson Football Media Outing on Tuesday.
“First of all, we live in a world now where not everybody does their research. You go in the bathroom and hear somebody in the third stall and that’s your source,” Swinney said.
“I’m just calling it like it is and that’s the headline. People hear what they want to hear and then unfortunately a lot of people write what they want to write that will fit what they need,” he continued. “It’s just not accurate, I’ve never had a problem with name, image and likeness I thought it should’ve been more.”
The comments referenced on social media stemmed from Swinney’s response in 2014 to the attempted Northwestern Student-Athlete Union that advocated for wages for college athletes in addition to their scholarships. Swinney stated he wants his players to take advantage of their platform and brand but would do something else if the sport was professionalized.
In 2019 when ideas about compensation for NIL started circulating Swinney spoke out in support of the measure so long as college athletics remained centered around education and graduation. He doubled down on his previous comments and set the record straight on Tuesday.
“What I said, whatever that was, I still say that I am against professionalizing college athletics and getting away from the value of a degree and the value of education,” Swinney said. “That was never ever said against name, image and likeness I think it could be more and could have been tied in more to the education process so everybody could have an equal opportunity.”
Now Swinney’s goal is to educate his players on fiscal responsibility and protect them from inevitable “wackiness” that will be brought on by the change.
But his goal in coaching and managing the Tigers remains the same because a small percentage of his players will go the NFL and those that do also have to beat the odds of financial difficulty that often occurs at the end of a professional career.
“These are mid-twenties to thirty year-olds now we’re kinda bringing all this to them,” Swinney said. “So my goal and what I have always valued is education and graduation and the development process as a man that’s my passion and what I have always valued.”
As for the critics Swinney knows they will write what they write and joked that he’d create a Twitter account to correct misinformation.
“I guess I should sign up for Twitter and I can be one of those people and just go back at everybody and spend my life correcting whoever is putting crazy information out there,” Swinney joked. “It comes with a territory but ya know what it just means we win. If we weren’t winning around here it wouldn’t matter.”