Duke legend Christian Laettner wants NIL nixed: ‘They’ve got to wipe that out’

March 29, 2024

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Duke basketball legend Christian Laettner is no fan of name, image and likeness deals in college sports. 

Laettner starred for the Blue Devils when NIL wasn’t even a consideration.

But college athletes have been able to profit off themselves in recent years, creating what many consider an unmanageable pay-for-play scheme.

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Christian Laettner with Duke

Duke’s Christian Laettner in action against UNLV in 1991. (Manny Millan/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

It’s no secret college athletes are flocking to big-time programs to make the most money, and it has athletes transferring from school to school.

It’s a drastic change from when Laettner was a household name in the early 1990s

“They’ve got to take out the NIL. They’ve got to wipe that out,” Laettner told ESPN Radio’s Mike Greenberg on the 32nd anniversary of Laettner’s famous game-winning jumper. “They’ve got to change the transfer portal. I know everyone’s saying the horse is out of the barn, and you can’t take stuff back, but how can you establish any type of culture at a school when you’re getting new kids every year?

Christian Laettner layup

Duke’s Christian Laettner shoots a layup against UConn in Pontiac, Mich., March 22, 1991. (Richard Mackson/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

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“That would mean every year was like my freshman year at Duke; and you’re so much better your third, your fourth year when you’re under one system, one program, one coach, one specifically defined culture. … I don’t know how the coaches do it in today’s game, and that’s why some of the better ones are starting to quit.”

Laettner may have been referencing Nick Saban, who retired earlier this year. However, Saban was adamant that NIL was not a reason for his retirement.

Saban is all for NIL, but he wants a “collective-driven” system.

Christian Laettner at duke-unc game

Former Duke basketball player Christian Laettner attends a game between Duke and the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium March 5, 2022, in Durham, N.C. (Lance King/Getty Images)

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“I think it needs to be equal across the board so that a school that can afford more can’t create an advantage for themselves just because they have more money to spend. But I’m all for student-athletes. I want student-athletes to have the best quality of life,” Saban told Bret Baier earlier this month.

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