Kirk Herbstreit lays out college football's path after NCAA loses NIL ruling: 'Losing power by the day'

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Kirk Herbstreit, a former Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback who is a college football analyst on ESPN, broke down Monday what he foresees as the next steps in the sport amid the NCAA’s latest legal battle over name, image and likeness (NIL).

A federal judge on Friday barred the NCAA from enforcing rules that prohibit NIL compensation from being used to recruit athletes. The judge wrote that the NCAA’s prohibition likely violates federal antitrust law and harms athletes.


Herbstreit appeared on OutKick’s “Don’t @ Me with Dan Dakich” and offered his perspective through the scope of college football and said he wouldn’t be surprised if some of the top college football conferences break away from the NCAA.

Kirk Herbstreit at NFL game

Kirk Herbstreit looks on from the Amazon Prime TNF broadcast booth prior to the NFL game between the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago on Nov. 9, 2023. (Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

“I feel like the NCAA has lost any power whatsoever in college football,” he said. “I feel like, at this point, as we go to this new world, I would not be surprised. I don’t know how they’d get there. You’d take the Big Ten, whoever it’s going to be – it’s like 60 teams, it’s the Big Ten, it’s the SEC, the ACC and the Big 12 and whoever else – I think they should go form their own world. 

“Create their own governing body. Get one voice, one commissioner, instead of everyone having to get in agreement – these guys don’t always feel comfortable with each other – get one voice.”

Herbstreit said commissioners like the SEC’s Greg Sankey, the Big Ten’s Tony Petitt and the ACC’s Jim Phillips about their own conferences and college football really should have “one voice.”

CFP Championship logo

The CFB National Championship logo is seen before the National Championship between Michigan and Washington on Jan. 8, 2024, at NRG Stadium in Houston. (David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


“I would pull out away from the NCAA, create my own governing body, I would partner with the players. I think you’d have to go through things like NIL and make some realistic changes,” he said, adding that the new league would also have to address revenue sharing. 

“You got to talk about transfer portal, you got to make that more accommodating to the players and the coaches. Where you have more staying power for a program.”

Herbstreit said that way would make the most sense in order to avoid legal battles or antitrust laws.

“I don’t know how you’d get there, but I think that’s where we’re headed,” he said. “Players are going to be employees; you’re late to a meeting, you’re fined. It’s basically going to be the NFL in college football. Somehow, we still have to do academics, talk about the importance of getting an education, even though nobody wants to hear that, it is.

CFP field

A view of the field logo before the CFP National Championship between Michigan and Washington at NRG Stadium in Houston on Jan. 8, 2024. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)


“Yeah, I think the NCAA is losing power by the day, and I think eventually that’s what I see happening is they’re going to have to form their own world for college football.”

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