Sitting out bowl games has become a common occurrence in recent years as players look to avoid injury as they prepare to turn pro or enter the transfer portal, but those postseason opt-outs could become a thing of the past, and college football’s new NIL rules could play a role.

Bowl Season executive director Nick Carparelli has noted that, in conversations with the sport’s leaders, the current belief is that schools will eventually bring NIL collectives “in-house,” as part of a new wide-ranging revenue-sharing program, with talks that players could receive contracts in exchange for NIL payments.

And in those contracts would likely be a stipulation that players would be compelled to play in every game without the chance to opt out.

“If you sign a contract and receive compensation, you’re obligated to perform certain duties,” Carparelli said, via ESPN. “In this case, play 12 regular-season games and a bowl game, or a bowl game and the playoff. That’s logical to expect. It’s the way the rest of us working folks operate.”

NIL collectives, which help fund compensation offers for players, currently work independently from schools and are operated by boosters.

Bowl Season, the entity that serves as the collective association of every college football bowl game, does not officially track the number of players who opt out of postseason games every year, but Carparelli said he estimates that about eight players per team do so on average.

Sometimes those opt-outs result in unusual results. Like last postseason, when two-dozen Florida State players declined to play in the Orange Bowl, an eventual 63-3 loss to Georgia.

Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart expressed sympathy for the Seminoles and their fans after the game, saying that “people need to look what happened tonight and they need to fix this.”

That fix could likely only ever come with a contractual obligation to force players to suit up for bowl games, according to Fiesta Bowl executive director and chief executive Erik Moses.

“You want to see the best guys play, and I think the only way we get to that is through a collective bargaining agreement and employment contracts that require you to play in the postseason if you’re healthy,” Moses said, via ESPN.

Behind the scenes, the NCAA is strongly considering a money-sharing scheme with players in an attempt to settle an ongoing lawsuit that could forever change the business structure of college football and other sports, paving the way for athletes to receive payment in exchange for play.

That plan could potentially involve a collective bargaining agreement that would make the NCAA negotiate NIL arrangements, including those that would end opt-outs in bowl games for good.

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