Kevin Willard on his unique proposition to change NIL, recruiting, his bald head and more

Maryland basketball coach Kevin Willard isn’t a fan of how the era of name, image and likeness quickly turned into the era of pay play.

“I’ll tell you, man, I can’t wait to find the portal. I think it’s, I’d love to see what it looks like. Because it must be amazing, because everyone’s jumping it. I think that I want to jump into the portal and see where it takes me. I think there needs to be some drastic changes in what’s going on and where we are in the college landscape. I don’t think NIL is NIL in this moment said during an interview on Jeff Goodman’s Field of 68 podcast.

“Anyone who says that’s the case is lying. I’m all for those kids making money. I think they should make as much money as possible. I don’t think it’s should be limits to what they should earn. But I don’t think it should be boosters. And it should be anyone related to your university. Really make it a real name and image and likeness And let them make as much money as possible.

Willard said he wants to see athletes make money, but not as free agents going to the highest bidder like many are doing right now.

“If it was under the table at the time, and people are going under the table and right now, that’s not the name and image and likeness. That’s just not what it’s. And I think it’s you know, we’re going to have a lot of decisions to make that aren’t for basketball purposes anymore or really for education. I just think we’ve lost track , and we need to get back on track as college basketball, to really deliver what we can deliver and at the same time let these kids make money off of and promote their image and likeness , and let them be. But at the same time, like these collectives or boosters, you know, pledging $400,000 just isn’t a name and likeness image,” he said.

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His solution? Pay bonuses to players for playoff success.

“I think the easiest way to end this mess is to have an NCAA tournament bonus. I’ve been saying that for four to five years. You know, you bring tremendous value to your college when you go to the tournament NCAA You get recognition, you get TV [money]. So I think instead of, you know, taking $400 million out of the NCAA tournament revenue and reallocating it to the players, you know, it’s like playoff bonuses. You do ‘A’ if you get to the first round, you get to the second round, you get ‘B’. You get to the Sweet 16… And the guys who win a national championship, like the guys from Kansas this year, those guys should have had a bigger playoff chunk. And I think that stops everything,” Willard said.

“Because if you don’t do the NCAA tournament, you know, we charter [planes], we give them every meal, we give them an education. We spend a lot of money, we work with them, sports psychiatry, you know, chiropractors, massage therapists. And it’s not like when I was playing, when you were taking a flight home at 6 in the morning, you know, it’s very different. So I think [it would be smart] if the NCAA was looking at it from the perspective of rewarding guys who have really brought tremendous value to college.”

The NIL debate aside, Willard reflects on how he decided to leave Seton Hall for Maryland.“I didn’t really think about it as a season was going on, you know, as the season was starting to end and it was like, again, my wife and I, every year, I always discussions about where we are. Do we want to move on and, you know, coming towards the end of the season, I looked at it from a family perspective,” he said. “I just looked at it like, okay, I have to start looking at what jobs are going to be open, because if I want to make a move, it has to be now. And I haven’t spoken to Damon Evans until to what we lost friday night [in the NCAAs]. I think I spoke to him Saturday morning. And it was like the first time I talked to Damon, and then I talked to him when we landed. So it moved very quickly. But as far as talking and talking to me, that didn’t happen until we got killed in the NCAA Tournament.”

He said local basketball brokers accepted him quickly.

“And you know, the high school coaches have been great. The AAU coaches have been great. I think this area has a really family vibe in that I think they all respect each other. They all hate each other , at the same time they all love each other,” he said. “You know, it’s like a family, they don’t speak badly of each other, but they want to kill each other, but they love each other, but they won’t take each other’s players. That’s really cool. It’s a cool vibe here that I’m excited to be a part of.”

Read below to find out more from Willard about Mark Turgeon, his coaching staff, recruiting and more…

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