Updated: Jul 11, 2022
University of Kentucky Football head coach Mark Stoops jumped on a radio interview with KSR's Matt Jones Tuesday afternoon to discuss the program's current stance in the NIL world, discussing what they need to do to keep progressing forward and to not get left behind. He didn't hold much back and voiced his opinion repeatedly on where the school's weaknesses may be and what they need to do to fix it.
"Blaming nobody, 'Are we where we need to be?' No." He continues with, "We've had I think 50 different players, between 40 and 50 different players receive NIL deals. Top to bottom, everybody in our building, everybody in our administration has been very supportive of that."
When talking about the landscape of NIL as a whole, Mark said, "We always want the players to receive money off their name, image and likeness." But over recent weeks, the staff has been losing out on players they thought they should've had when other programs, sometimes smaller and often not as successful (recently), have been taking their recruits. "From the top of the food chain with Nick Saban on down, everybody is a little bit concerned with the pay-for-play. The collective so to speak and guaranteeing players money out of High School and all those things. I mean that's technically illegal. Is it going on? I mean, c'mon, let's get our head out of the sand. Of course it's going on. Our league has been a league that's done things on the fridge for a hundred years."
"I'm always going to have this belief... that players are going to earn it here. I've said it from the beginning. They're going to earn their way. We're going to earn it, we're not going to give it away. Whether that's a roster spot, things of that nature. I want to keep that. Keep that hunger. We're going to get that guys we're suppose to get. And we're going to have the same mentality that we've always had."
As he wraps up his rant on what the university needs to do, he said, "To answer your question, 'Are we in position for where we need to be?' No, no we're not. There are people in town here that are doing things with pre-funded endorsement marketing dollars that need to come from businesses. I've kind of poked around it during different media situations and things of that nature, but we do need people to step up. They do need to understand that, and this is the second time I've gone on record on saying that, it is legal. For them to step up and pay some of the people in town here, or I should say, pay out an expensive from their business to set aside pre and future marketing deals to a fund, for people to put that aside to use that in the future for marketing."
Mark Stoops went on to say that once players have arrived on campus and found success, there has been no problem with them reaching NIL opportunities. Will Levis, Wan'Dale Robinson, Oscar Tshiebwe in basketball, they're all doing just fine along with many more. It's the angle of showcasing to players that there will be plenty of opportunities once they get to Lexington, without illegally paying them to commit to the program like other schools are doing right now, in the public eye, and not yet getting punished for it.
Mark Stoops says he wants people to know that, "Yes, it is perfectly legal for people that have a business expense for future marketing expenses that use Kentucky athletes." He wants businesses to step up and support the program the right way and that it is allowed. "I'm going to do whatever it takes. I'm going to fight the fight. The best we can and we're going to have the same look. We're going to be the same tough, scrappy, physical football team that you always see and we're not going to change. I want players that come here because they want to earn it. And yes I want to help them earn it, I want them to be able to do it because they deserve that... I don't want guys that want a handout."
It’s been reported that this week there will be a huge meeting surrounding NIL and different affiliates from all of UK’s sports programs to discuss the steps that need to be completed to to start benefiting their programs through this new era.