Name, Image, and Likeness has made roster limits irrelevant in college sports

Apr 4, 2024; Cleveland, OH, USA; A SEC logo billboard prior to the NCAA Women's Final Four.
Apr 4, 2024; Cleveland, OH, USA; A SEC logo billboard prior to the NCAA Women's Final Four. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While the emergence of Name, Image, and Likeness has changed many aspects of college athletics one new change probably wasn't expected by the NCAA. The NCAA has set scholarship limits of 85 in football and 13 scholarships in basketball. These limits however have likely become irrelevant with NIL coming into play.

The new trend for programs will be taking in top transfers or recruits as "walk-ons" while ensuring a player gets enough money in NIL to cover their school costs. The NCAA hasn't set any rules against this loop hole and programs are just starting to exploit the loophole.

The Florida Gators may be the team that's used it the most notably in this transfer portal cycle. Last year, nearly every program in the country wanted Cormani McClain who was a five-star cornerback who ended up choosing Colorado to play for Deion Sanders. McClain entered the transfer portal this Spring and chose the Florida program as his next landing spot. Florida, however, was over the scholarship limit meaning that McClain has joined the team as a "walk-on"

The LSU basketball program is one of the latest to exploit this unexpected loophole. The LSU Tigers took a scholarship penalty as fallout from Will Wade recruiting violations. Matt McMahon only has 12 scholarships at his disposal and after filling up his 12 scholarships, he still had a need at Center. He's now used the "walk-on" role to fill his hole with Juco Transfer Noah Boyed.

The NCAA will now have an interesting decision on its hands as it can look to either keep these scholarship limits or change the rules to keep teams from using a loophole to exploit them. The issue the NCAA will face is that some walk-on athletes truly are walk-ons that will go on to earn NIL opportunities so they can't ban it altogether.

All a part of a changing landscape

The job of the NCAA has gotten significantly harder over the past few years and as the game continues to change so will the NCAA. Teams will now look to find any loophole they can exploit through NIL to give their program a competitive advantage and they will seize it. We're still in the early stages of NIL and transfer rules so eventually the NCAA will get a proper hold on it but until then programs will continue to use any resource they can.