Sports Court NIL Newsletter | Laettner sounds off

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Today’s Case

Duke legend Christian Laettner wants NCAA to ‘Take Out’ NIL

Former Duke basketball player Christian Laettner (Photo Credit:

Amongst many supporters of NIL, Duke basketball legend Christian Laettner is not among them.

The two-time National Champion and College Hall of Famer joined ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg for an interview to discuss the current state of college athletics.

They gotta take out the NIL. They gotta wipe that out. They gotta change the transfer portal… how can you establish any type of culture at a school when you’re getting new kids every year? That would mean every year was like my freshman year at Duke. And you’re so much better your third, your fourth year when you’re under one system, one program, one coach, one specifically defined culture.

Laettner also connected dots between the NIL landscape and recent coaching retirements, such as Alabama’s Nick Saban and Villanova’s Jay Wright.

“I don’t know how the coaches do it in today’s game and that’s why some of the better ones are starting to quit. The coach at Villanova, he quit. He never should’ve quit. Nick Saban thinking about quitting, or he already quit. It’s so bad to see some of these great, great coaches stop coaching and it’s because of the NIL. It’s because of the transfer portal. I think I saw something with Nick Saban where he said the first thing a kid says to him, a recruit says to him is ‘How much money are you going to give me?’ It’s just horrible.”

The Verdict

  • What he gets right

    • I agree with Laettner on consistent team culture being hard to establish when new athletes are coming in every year. (Although to be fair, this has been happening at high level college basketball teams for the past 20 years.)

      • However, proper NIL programs and offerings can help build a team’s culture. (LSU women’s basketball is a good example.)

    • His point about Nick Saban stating that athletes are asking how much NIL money they will receive is also a (somewhat) warranted reason.

  • And where there is room for open thinking

    • Laettner should realize how much good NIL has done for numerous student-athletes (including ones at his alma mater Duke).

      • While not every college athlete earns six figures via NIL deals and collectives, athletes (including women’s sports and non-revenue sports) earning money and building their brand is extremely beneficial.

    • He’s also looking at it from a men’s basketball-only lens.

      • Granted, that’s the sport he played, but he seems to be painting with too broad of a brush by stating that NIL in its entirety needs to be eliminated.

    • While it seems that Laettner supports college athletics in a pure form (nothing wrong with that point of view), he should accept that the college sports landscape is rapidly shifting - and eliminating NIL altogether is not a reasonable request.

Student-athletes: Post more content

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