Hunter Dickinson Leaving Michigan for NIL Reasons is Justified
There are many solid reasons the introduction of NIL to the college athletics landscape stirred as much controversy as it did. However, nothing will outweigh the very real truth that the college opportunity is at its core a method for individuals to do what is ultimately best for themselves.
Athletes choose to go to the best schools for a myriad of reasons, but the opportunity to move on to the next level and now the highest NIL opportunities are the most prevalent for the most elite.
Any time these athletes take their careers into their own hands, there exists a pushback baked in double standards. Former Michigan Wolverines center Hunter Dickinson expressed that sentiment with one sentence baked in truth on the Roundball podcast when discussing his transfer to Kansas.
"The people hating on me would leave their job right now for a $10,000 increase," Dickinson said.
As the hosts of the podcast agreed with Dickinson, the superstar's decision to move onto another opportunity, whether NIL played the leading role or not, is something every day people do every day. Even more prevalent, the coaches that oversee players like Dickinson do the same every offseason, jockeying for position to reach the next promotion.
No different from everyday people, no different from the coaches that swap different color polos each offseason, players have dreams and aspirations. They also hold themselves to a particular wealth standard based on what they feel they've earned and what others are willing to pay. That's how the free market works.
"I got, at Michigan, less than six figures. I got less than six figures at Michigan for the year."
The money matters, but that doesn't dehumanize what Dickinson is doing with his career.
"I still do love Michigan," he said. "I still love the school and everything. I love the program. That's why it was so hard to leave because I really didn't want to leave, I didn't. But I just felt like, man, it was the best decision for me. It took a lot of courage. I don't think people realize how much courage it took for a guy who was there for three years, an All-American for the team. I did have a legacy there and I basically gave that up to try to be selfish and do what's best for me and my career, not what's best for anybody else's career."
Something that is often lost on fans is that player and coach loyalty doesn't exist in the same manner as it does for fans. For fans, we bleed our colors and refuse to acknowledge there is anywhere else our players and coaches would rather be for the most frivolous reasons. But for players and coaches, it's a job and an opportunity. Does sentimentality play a role? Obviously, just re-read Dickinson's quote.
But at the end of the day, for any person walking this planet with the ability to pursue a goal and make money doing it, the best path is not often the easiest emotionally. Sacrifices may have to be made. Mistakes may have to be made. Those are both critical experiences to the college experience, whether athlete or not.