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NCAA must manage NIL — and fast

Commentary

Some recent news items in sports worthy of comment while praying for the families in Texas and wishing our nation’s leaders can better protect our children:

ITEM: NIL hits home.

Pitt standout receiver Jordan Addison, the 2021 recipient of the Fred Biletnikoff award, has officially transferred to USC amid reports that he’ll be paid in the neighborhood of $2 million via the Name, Image and Likeness rule.

There were allegations of tampering, and Pitt coach Pat Narduzzi had several contentious conversations expressing as much with new Southern Cal coach Lincoln Riley.

This is just the latest example of how the lack of NCAA leadership has fueled the most combustible time in college athletics.

Players are free to speak with agents. Some, like Sean Clifford, are forming their own NIL businesses — which raises conflict-of-interest issues — and it’s clear schools are pre-arranging scholarship offers before players hop into the transfer portal.

It’s one big mess which gained national attention last week when Alabama coach Nick Saban accused Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher — who was on Saban’s staff at LSU — of buying players.

Penn State has taken a measured approach to NIL with a “Success With Honor” committee and fundraising mission, and new incoming athletic director Pat Kraft has acknowledged a “sharks in the water” mentality among other schools.

Kraft said he expects it to take a couple of years to be fully regulated. In the meantime, Penn State is in jeopardy of falling even further behind the nation’s elite.

Letting players profit from NIL so they can afford pizza and help their families attend road games is one thing, but poaching players from other schools with $2 million promises shouldn’t be what college football is all about.

And if it is, I’m sorry Pitt was victimized, and I hope Penn State doesn’t get sucked into the cesspool.

ITEM: Lions’ schedule takes shape

Penn State now has four kickoff times set for the upcoming football season.

Night games are scheduled at Purdue (season opener, Thursday, Sept. 1) and home vs. Minnesota (Oct. 22). The home opener vs. Ohio (U, not State) is set for noon on Sept. 10 followed by a 3:30 kickoff at Auburn a week later.

The Ohio State game on Oct. 29 at Beaver Stadium is not yet locked, and there’s been speculation it could be a noon start for FOX.

Which raises the question: Which game will be the whiteout?

It’s generally been at night, which showcases the whiteout look, and the opponent is usually Ohio State or Michigan. Last year it was Auburn.

Here’s another consideration: The Lions have lost five straight to Ohio State. The whiteout is a huge recruiting weekend.

It might help to win the whiteout game, and playing Minnesota instead of the Buckeyes gives the Lions a better chance.

ITEM: Ex-PSU coach lands at Rutgers

It was announced earlier this week that Coquese Washington is succeeding legendary C. Vivian Stringer as the new women’s basketball coach at Rutgers.

Washington was Penn State’s head coach for 12 seasons. She took over for Rene Portland in 2007 and presided over an excellent four-year stretch (2010-14) in which the Lady Lions averaged 25 wins per season, won three Big Ten titles and twice advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen.

Then in the next five years, she practically drove the program into the ground, going 29-57 in Big Ten play and turning PSU into a conference cellar dweller.

Mercifully, her tenure ended mutually in 2019, and she spent the last three years as an assistant at Oklahoma and Notre Dame.

Now, she’s succeeding one of the most decorated coaches of all time.

ITEM: Former hoop standouts expire.

Two ex-scholastic players who made their marks on the local basketball community have died.

Todd Little was a contributor on one of Altoona’s best teams, 1984-85, that advanced to the PIAA western final. Little, the father of former Lady Lion and Duquesne standout and current Bishop Guilfoyle coach Kristi Little, died Wednesday in Altoona. He was 55.

Steve Cordova graduated from BG in 1972 and was the half-brother of former Altoona stars Billy and Johnny Moore. Cordova, who died May 8 in Chicago, was 68.

Condolences to their families and friends.

Rudel can be reached at 814-946-7527 or nrudel@altoonamirror.com.

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