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Lexington/Richmond

UK basketball coach sees NIL benefitting college athletic programs

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University of Kentucky
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University of Kentucky Basketball Coach John Calipari said coronavirus has created physical and mental stress within college athletics. Calipari delivered his annual speech to Lexington Rotarians Thursday. The UK coach said not one player or coach got COVID last season. “I had a staff, we did what we had to protect those kids. Now, probably hurt them in how they played together and individually. There was no trust. It was hard,” said Calipari.

Calipari said that’s in the rearview mirror, things were learned, and now it’s about moving on.

When asked about the college transfer portal, which opened the door to more movement of players from team to team, Calipari said it will hurt the mid-major and lower teams the most.

Calipari noted the name, image, likeness rule involving college athletes could mean a financial windfall for university athletic programs. Calipari told Lexington Rotarians compensating players may also bring business dollars to universities.

The UK coach said he spoke with players individually to see if differing amounts of pay for names and likeness was affecting team unity. “Has it affected the locker room in any way and to a man, I’m not a liar, I tell the truth, don’t always agree with what I say but I’m gonna tell you the truth. They went, ‘What?’ This is as close a team as we’ve been and we also know some of the guys may make a little bit more, but we’re all making things happen for ourselves,” said Calipari.

Calipari noted a federal law will be needed involving name, image and likeness rules to ensure everything is level and the same state-to-state. He added a state law is needed to be flexible and nimble on the matter of player compensation.

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