Former Texas A&M Football Player Puts Up Cryptic Message Regarding "Contracts"

Walter Nolen put up a message on Instagram aimed at incoming players for Texas A&M football.
Sep 23, 2023; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Walter Nolen (0)
Sep 23, 2023; College Station, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defensive lineman Walter Nolen (0) / Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Walter Nolen Posts Instagram Story About Texas A&M Football and "Contracts"; What Does It Mean?

Earlier today on Instagram, former Texas A&M football player and current Ole Miss commit Walter Nolen posted a strange message. It read "PSA if u going to A&M read ur contract thoroughly hmu if u got questions just tryna help".

At the time that Nolen left Texas A&M football, there was some thought that he may end up returning to the fold. There were whispers that some of his NIL contract details could prevent him from being able to easily leave and get a contract associated with a different school. If those whispers are indeed true, this post certainly could come into alignment with and provide support for that evaluation.

The timing of this post is a little convenient, it should be said. As of this afternoon's updates on 247Sports, the Aggies now boast the top transfer portal class in the nation, overtaking Ole Miss (to whom, of course, Walter is committed). We've known Kiffin to be a bit of an opportunistic social media user, and given some of the tactics he's used in the past, I wouldn't be surprised if I learned that he deputized players and coaches to use their social media accounts in a similarly opportunistic way.

With Kiffin's history and personality, I'd understand that. Something I don't understand is the way that certain other social media users are attempting to spin this as a shady tactic by Texas A&M. One account (College Football Headlines, which is run by an LSU fan—of course, you won't find easy indication of that on the page, but it's clear to anyone doing even the mildest bit of sleuthing) said that it "[l]ooks like A&M had some bad contracts written last year".

In reality, it likely means the opposite. Let's be clear here: Walter's post can connote a couple of things, any of which require a certain leap of logic. Let's break this down.

First, he could be offering because there was an unknown, extremely harsh stricture in the language that has caused him undue personal hardship. I find this unlikely, as I do not believe Walter or those in his circle are foolish enough to not read a contract and detect something of this type.

Second, he could be offering because he expected the Aggie program to be somewhat devastated once he left, but now that Elko has built things back up, he is bitter. This also seems unlikely to me, given the level of personal animus that would need to be at play.

Third, he could be offering because there was something in the contract that he was aware of, but later regretted signing. Something that would fall under this category could be requirements for the disbursement of promised funds; such as having to appear at an event on behalf of Texas A&M football—in other words, the normal, intended function of NIL compensation. Of course, now that Walter is no longer with the team, he would not receive the funds, as he would be breaking such a contract.

This is what I find the most likely. NIL deals cannot be offered by a school specifically, and they most include something performed by the athlete: whether an appearance at an event, an autograph signing, or anything else. If Walter signed a contract to do a certain number of appearances, but those would extend into the fall/past the transfer windows, he would not receive all of the funds outlined in the contract if he transferred and ended up not holding up his end of the contract.

Now, there are a lot of things you could get into here, like whether the contract in question then has a penalty of repaying all of the funds he had earned up to that point (functionally, a buyout), or some type of non-compete (not being a contract lawyer, I am unsure how enforceable that would be, but my instinct is "not very"), but in any case, I find this the most likely scenario. My inclination is that this story indicates Walter being unable to fulfill the terms of a signed contract and therefore receiving less compensation than he had imagined.

Still, though, you can bet that plenty of college football fans will look to twist this against Texas A&M football however possible. Longhorn fans have already been tagging the NCAA on Twitter (as if that will do anything). People like to imagine the bombastic when it comes to Texas A&M football and NIL compensation, no matter how much evidence to the contrary, but the reality, as always, is much more mundane.