With NIL dollars flowing in all directions, collegiate athletes have never been more empowered. While in the past players may have based their college decisions on factors such as coaching, facilities and campus atmosphere, the criteria has changed drastically in the NIL age, with recruits flocking to wherever pays the most money, using their schools as stepping stones for larger endorsement opportunities.
Never has this been more true than in the case of Miami sophomore Isaiah Wong, who averaged 16.3 points per game during the Hurricanes’ recent NCAA Tournament run. The 6’3” guard has issued an ultimatum, announcing his intention to leave Miami if his demands aren’t met.
“If Isaiah and his family don't feel that the NIL number meets their expectations they will be entering the transfer portal [Friday], while maintaining his eligibility in the NBA Draft and going through the draft process,” Adam Papas, Wong’s NIL agent, expressed to Jeff Borzello and Jonathan Givony of ESPN. “Isaiah would like to stay at Miami. He had a great season leading his team to the Elite Eight. He has seen what incoming Miami Hurricane basketball players are getting in NIL and would like his NIL to reflect that he was a team leader of an Elite Eight team." Papas also represents Nijel Pack, who recently transferred from Kansas State to Miami, the result of an $800,000 NIL deal with LifeWallet.
Welcome to college basketball’s first holdout. It was only a matter of time before players began weaponizing the transfer portal as a form of free agency, using the threat of leaving as a negotiating tactic in NIL deals. In fact, few schools have benefited more from the transfer portal than Miami, with three of the Hurricanes’ five starters last season plucked from other universities.
With the transfer portal deadline fast approaching (May 1st), Wong will have to decide quickly or risk losing his eligibility for next season. Wong recently declared for the NBA Draft, but can withdraw as late as June 1st. School employees are prohibited from arranging NIL deals for athletes in the state of Florida, though players are free to pursue marketing opportunities through program boosters and other affiliated partners.