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When Alabama's Nick Saban and Texas A&M's Jimbo Fisher sparred over payments to college football players through name, image and likeness deals, Fisher said his team was an open book.

I don't have to say anything. I don't have to say anything. Fisher spoke at a May 19 news conference. If everyone could say that, it would be fascinating.

"I'm all for players making as much as they can make," he said. We have to have a transparent way to do that.

The coaches and other universities were asked to release their NIL- related documents or data by a sampling of 23 universities from the Power 5 conferences. Schools gave few to no records. The university wouldn't release any information about Alabama. And at Texas A&M? The university said it would provide hundreds of records, but still hasn't, and records that officials did release omitted financial terms, athletes' names and sports.

The only way to get a picture of what's happening in the marketplace is by combining incomplete and unverifiable figures from public statements from athletes, the companies they endorse, and others. The information focuses on an athlete's market value as opposed to their actual earnings. According to NCAA officials, they have found instances in which numbers shared publicly are overstated.

It's nearly impossible to identify trends and outliers that might point to inequalities in the way schools are promoting or supporting their athletes, whether athletes are treated fairly if a school has a competing interest with a company or donor, or whether schools are ensuring. For athletes and recruits, some information -- even anonymous, aggregate figures that give an overview of the market -- could help them evaluate their own NIL offers.

In May, Alabama coach Nick Saban and Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher publicly feuded about payments to college football players through name, image and likeness deals. Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

When college athletes were able to make money off their name, image and likeness, there was little to no oversight. The NCAA doesn't require schools to track detailed information, but they do have to ensure deals aren't used as recruiting incentives. State by state, the degree to which schools are allowed to facilitate endorsements varies.

In May, ESPN filed requests with 23 universities for NIL records, asking for compensation amounts and aggregate totals. NIL reports were requested from the NCAA, an athletic conference or any state or federal agency.

The schools were selected for their NIL and open records laws.

Alabama, Central Florida, Florida, Iowa, Iowa State, Louisiana State and Mississippi denied requests. As of Friday, Florida State, Oklahoma State, UCLA and Washington State have acknowledged receiving the request, but have yet to agree or give the records.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act exempts a student's education record from being made public. Federal student privacy laws allow for records to be released if students' identifying information is removed or redacted, but few schools budged.

Fisher chided a local reporter who asked about NIL deals for football players after he stated that his program has nothing to hide. You're media, right? Did you do your homework? Fisher said that nobody wants the truth.

On May 23, Texas A&M was asked to provide records that would show NIL figures with the names of companies, compensation amounts or other categories. Texas A&M offered to give copies of 490 contracts, but with names, sport, company and dollar amount redacted, for a processing fee of $1,470.06. The school did not offer any records with the totals.

The university has produced only 47 contracts since the fee was paid by Disney.

The data was released by Texas A&M after another reporter from the Bryan-College Station Eagle requested it. The data, which the school gave to ESPN after yet another request, showed football players received $3.4 million in NIL deals, 81% of the almost $4.2 million for all athletes from July 1, 2021, to August 1, 2022, and far above the second-place men's basketball deals of $472, Softball was the team with the most deals.

When asked why Texas A&M didn't give the data to the sports network after it requested it, the school's open records officer wrote that the information was created after the request was made. The document that Texas A&M sent to the sports network was created on August 31, according to the data in the document. Bledsoe said that the information existed before the request was made.

Even if they were just aggregate reports or documents without student identities, it was still a request for records from Alabama. Athletes are required to give the school any NIL agreements. The state of Alabama did not give any records.

The University of Maryland shared a spreadsheet showing individual transactions with the name of the business, the paid-for activity and the dollar amount.

There were 81 transactions for football players and 18 transactions for field hockey players in Maryland. The most lucrative autograph deals were for football players and averaged $5,933 per player. The average social media deal was $684.

Some schools responded to the request with a lot of information.

  • The University of Arizona gave only a copy of the presentation. There was no data about athletes' deals shown in the presentation.

  • More than 100 athletes have signed deals with Arizona State, and more than 75 of them are football players. The school didn't give any further numbers or figures.

  • The University of Illinois offered a spreadsheet with company names, the type of activity, and the grade level of the athlete, but without names, sports or dollar amounts. The overall withholding and redactions of the Illinois response were appealed by ESPN. The state of Illinois exempts it from withholding company "trade secrets."

  • General NIL information and presentations were provided by Indiana. Athletes have done deals with about 100 businesses, according to one document.

  • The name of the company and a brief description of the deal were included in a spreadsheet provided by Nevada. The names of athletes were blacked out. For a deal with Leaf Trading cards, the highest amount was $35,000.

  • More than 200 athletes have NIL deals, according to a slide presentation from Ohio State. Football is the sport with the highest combined deal value, while gymnastics is the sport with the lowest.

  • A summary report showing 157 deals totaling $176,431 was released by the university in June. In September, it released a more detailed spreadsheet that listed the value of individual transactions with company names, but it didn't include the names of the athletes.

  • The University of Texas gave a document that listed amounts or types of individual NIL deals, but without athletes' names. The dollar amounts of the four largest contracts were blacked out in other cases. The totals by sport were provided by Texas. Football players had the most deals with almost one million dollars.

  • The University of South Florida released a spreadsheet with individual amounts paid by type of transaction, but didn't identify the transactions by sport The most common deals were for social media posts that added up to $8,275.

  • There were 172 deals signed by athletes at the University of Washington as of June 10. 55 of those deals were for football, 17 for men's basketball and 10 for women's basketball. The university didn't say which athletes got the rest. The largest individual deal was $50,000 and the average cash deal value was $3,012.73. Female athletes made up 48 percent of the deals, while male athletes made up 52 percent. There were 150 deals with the NIL collective Montlake Futures that averaged $3,970 and 56 deals with Opendorse that averaged $205.73).

Alabama coach Nick Saban (right) had accused Jimbo Fisher's Texas A&M of having "bought every player." AP Photo/Butch Dill

The NCAA initially intended to be much more strict in how it regulated the industry, but abandoned that plan to avoid antitrust litigation. In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court raising concerns about the NCAA violating antitrust laws, the association decided not to establish a third-party administrator to gather NIL data.

Jonathan Duncan, the NCAA's vice president of enforcement, said that numbers released by athletes or companies can't always be trusted.

"After a thorough investigation where we have had cooperation of parties and we have had credible testimony from individuals with personal knowledge, sometimes the numbers that are reported are not the numbers," he stated. I don't want to say that every number is false. We have found that not everything is true.

According to a July report from On 3, the NCAA has been denied NIL documents. The Division Street collective, an organization that pools money from boosters and businesses to offer endorsement or service contracts to athletes, was asked for details by the NCAA. Federal student privacy and business confidentiality clauses were cited as the reason for Oregon's denial of the request.

The NCAA's national office does not create the rules it enforces. Any rule changes that increase transparency need to be voted on by member schools.

Duncan said that many schools want instant justice when it's another school. When it's them, they don't want the same things.

David Schnase, NCAA vice president of academic and membership affairs, said building trust in the college sports industry is one reason to share more information about the NIL market. The NCAA has a working group that studies transparency.

The more transparent we can be, the more equity that builds with people who care about this and the better it is for the industry.

Florida gymnast Leah Clapper said transparency into NIL data would help her assess the fairness of deals. AP Photo/Gary McCullough

The athletes said they would prefer some level of transparency in the data.

I like to know if it's worth it for me. The University of Florida gymnast, who founded a website to help college athletes navigate NIL issues, thinks more transparency needs to come into the area. "If people are able to share their experiences working with brands and share how big their platform size is and how much they got paid, that can really make a huge difference." This person is getting paid a lot more than me because they have the same platform.

Every time Clapper gets a deal, Florida's compliance office requires her to enter the details of the contract into an app. In order to inform college athletes about upcoming news and ongoing events/promotions available for them to participate in, Andscape and EspnW- branded pages have been added to the INFL CR app.

Aggregate data about the deals struck on their platforms has been published by companies. The information has shed more light on college athlete endorsements than any other source, but it is not independently verified and provides an incomplete picture of the marketplace.

Clapper said she wouldn't want her name publicized with her actual contract details, "but I would absolutely want my data to be used in aggregate against all the other athletes." She pointed out that the size of an athlete's social media following could be useful.

After NIL deals became available for college athletes last year, Dylan Powell, a football player at Indiana University, posted a message on his social media account. Powell, who finished his masters degree at Indiana this summer, said he wasn't a big name and wasn't expecting much, and he said the offer he appreciated most was a promotion for a local dog kennel, which offered him free boarding for Hoosier, his yellow labrador retriever, during

It's okay for the schools to let the whole team know what they're getting. I am not sure if it would be appropriate to release individual contracts if they are not given permission to do so. Powell thinks it's appropriate for schools to use the figures as recruiting tools.

In many cases, athletes and their schools are competing for the same amount of money from the same source. As a growing number of schools become more involved in facilitating deals for their athletes, transparency may help athletes feel confident they are being treated fairly and help athletic departments navigate some inherent conflicts of interest.

"You could come up with a lot of situations where it's going to benefit everybody to be able to show what you're doing," said Bill Squadron, the former president ofBloomberg Sports. Everyone benefits from knowing how the market works. People can understand what may be outliers.

Some schools push for new laws that would prohibit the release of NIL information. Louisiana State Sen. Patrick Connick said that LSU requested that a law be enacted to make NIL information confidential.

The law went into effect three days after the request was made. The Public Records Law states that "any document that references the terms and conditions of an NIL contract should be confidential and not subject to inspection, examination, copying or reproduction."

LSU officials didn't respond to a question about their involvement in the creation of the bill.

LSU is not a party to the NIL contracts because they are agreements between athletes and companies. "Why would a school discriminate one athlete over another?" Connick asked. I'm not sure that's a valid point.

If athletes want to know what deals are being offered, they can talk to other athletes, who can decide if they want to share that information.

It's just people being curious about how much you make. Connick spoke. Making a public record to be broadcast out throughout the nation is not in the best interest of the students.

The University of Kentucky men's basketball coach testified in favor of a state law that included a specific open records exemption. The law was supported in the legislature by both Republicans and Democrats. The legislation protects athletes by giving them the ability to void contracts if and when they turn pro, and gives the university a role in reviewing contracts, according to Sen. Morgan McGarvey, a Democrat who co-sponsored the bill.

"Coaches say, 'Well, we'd rather not have a bill, we could go do whatever we want,'" Calipari told the legislature. You don't have a safe harbor. The NCAA could say, "You're wrong, we're not going to allow you to do that."

Amye Bensenhaver is a former assistant attorney general and co- founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition.

She said that there was a "rah-rah" session at the legislature. Do you enforce the same policies for different products? Is it because this player is less valuable to the university that you decide that this is inappropriate? They have put in place a barrier to these records.

The spokesman for Kentucky wouldn't comment on the story.

Kentucky State Sen. Morgan McGarvey co-sponsored a bill that gives athletes the ability to nullify NIL contracts when they turn pro, but that also includes a specific open records exemption that keeps information private. Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal via Imagn Content Services

Legislators were under a time crunch to get some legislation passed before the session ended in April, and it's possible the issue of disclosing records pertaining to NIL could be reexamined.

If a university was negotiating contracts on behalf of the athlete, there would be a better argument for transparency. He said the legislation calls for NIL deals to be offered at a "prevailing market rate" based on a comparison with athletes of similar skill, experience and fame.

We want to help these student athletes. He said that there needs to be a balance between what is in the public's interest and what is protected.

Ramogi Huma, a former UCLA football player and executive director of the National College Players Association, favors laws that don't require athletes to reveal their information because the laws allow athletes to enter into contracts with companies that require confidentiality.

He said there's merit in the issue of transparency and that he could see a need for reporting that would provide aggregate figures. Discrimination suits are usually brought because something becomes apparent, not because everything is transparent.

U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said it's possible that NIL deals become part of the information schools are required to report to the federal government, but didn't specify when or how. Oliver Contreras/for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Title IX, the federal gender equity law that requires schools to provide equal access to students regardless of gender, is one of the reasons why the U.S. Department of Education is looking at NIL deals.

The male athletes getting paid and the just-as-committed, just-as-hard- working women athletes, not, are some of the concerns I have. He said that universities need to create structures that are monitoring and communicating what they are doing to create equity.

He said it's possible that NIL deals could be part of the information schools are required to report to the federal government.

"We have an opportunity to learn from the past and create structures here, or promote structures at the federal level that could be visited at the state, at the college level, that ensure equity, that ensure access," he said.

Abbey lostrom and John Mastroberardino worked on the report.