Darien Harris discusses the state of Michigan State’s NIL

Big Ten Championship
Big Ten Championship / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

It seems like NIL is the main focus of nearly every college football discussion I see nowadays. Maybe that’s because it seems like Michigan State has been getting more involved in those discussions on a more public basis, but anyone who even slightly cares about college football knows how much NIL is impacting the sport.

That is true at Michigan State just like it is everywhere else, and NIL really became a huge talking point on Tuesday.

In case you missed the news, star defensive lineman Derrick Harmon announced that he will be entering the transfer portal. This news shocked everyone at MSU, mainly because the Spartans just ponied up and gave him a large NIL deal (the largest in the Big Ten for a defensive lineman) to convince him to stay at Michigan State this past December.

Now that he’s deciding to transfer again just months later, it made a lot of people question if MSU really is a big NIL player or not.

Thankfully for Michigan State fans, one former football player who now actively works in the athletic department spoke up and shared some interesting details about Michigan State’s NIL.

Darien Harris discusses Michigan State’s NIL

Darien Harris is a former Spartan standout linebacker during the height of Mark Dantonio’s era. He was a two-year starter for Michigan State and was voted a team captain on the 2015 College Football Playoff team.

Now with his playing days behind him, Harris is an Assistant AD and NIL Special Adivsor in the Michigan State athletic department. So if anyone knows what MSU’s NIL program looks like, it’s Harris.

After the news of Harmon’s transfer on Tuesday, Harris took to X and shared some of his thoughts about Michigan State’s NIL. He never mentioned Harmon directly, but you can tell that this news is what set him off.

Harris said, “Any and every way you can possibly think about NIL we (Michigan State) have at the HIGHEST level.” He continued, “At some point it needs to be accepted, you can’t make somebody do something.”

This is a very reassuring thing to hear in my opinion. Michigan State doesn’t have the best NIL in the country, but I’ve always thought MSU was very competitive and can hang with those schools that are the best in the country. So at the end of the day, it does come down to if people actually want to be at Michigan State or not. According to Harris there is plenty of NIL to go around, but the players still have to want to be here.

Harris went on later to express this thought, saying, “You must first actually want to be here or anywhere that’s trying to retain you.”

So while the news of Harmon transferring was frustrating, it is good to hear that it wasn’t Michigan State’s fault. The NIL money the Spartans have is competitive, so if a player truly doesn’t want to be here while they’re are making good money, then I won’t miss them for one second.