NIL Ineligible Big Man Frank Mitchell Commits to Gophers

Frank Mitchell, Canisius
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Gophers men’s basketball team has found its 2024 replacement for Pharrel Payne, who entered the transfer portal a couple weeks ago, in Canisius big man, Frank Mitchell, a 6’8″ 240 lb Canadian senior who played his first year of college eligibility in Canada, before transferring to Canisius.

If you want a quick idea of who this dude is, think Jordan Murphy. He won’t put in enough time in maroon and gold to take Murphy’s spot as the top rebounder in school history, but he’s the same style of player. Classic big man who never quite got tall enough, but has a nose for the basketball when it hits the rim.

Minnesota Gophers land Canisius big man Frank Mitchell

As a junior at Canisius, Mitchell averaged a double-double (12.1 points, 11.6 rebounds). He shot 56.1% from the field but he is a terrible foul shooter (47%). Lucky for him, the guy he is replacing wasn’t good in that department either.

According to Ryan James (247Sports), Mitchell is expected to start at center next season and has one known season of eligibility. Nobody seems willing to confirm that, though. He had to sit out one season at Canisius, due to transfer rules at the time… a rule that is no longer in place.

James did confirm one other thing over at the GopherIllustrated.com (247Sports), though. That Mitchell had already committed to the Minnesota Gophers prior to his visit on Monday. How they kept it all under wraps before, during and after his visit, is unknown, but impressive.

In somewhat of a rare occasion, Canisius transfer Frank Mitchell, originally from Canada, committed to Minnesota sight unseen before his visit. To complete the deal the Gophers had Mitchell on campus on Monday for an official visit and now Mitchell is expected to be the Gophers five man.

Ryan James – 247Sports

Frank Mitchell is NIL ineligible?

One other thing that is worth noting about Mitchell is his NIL ineligibility. That’s right, it’s believed that Frank cannot collect NIL proceeds, because he is from Canada. Apparently, there is a weird rule for international players that puts their VISA status in jeopardy, should they be turned in for collecting any Name, Image and Likeness cash.

How is this possible? Most international student athletes are here on F-1 student visas. Those visas do not allow students to work off campus. In fact, if a student is caught collecting money from any off-campus source, the schools are have a duty to turn them in, effectively terminating their visa and sending them back to the country they came from.

[The] vast majority of [international students], according to the NCAA, are in the country on F-1 student visas. Those visas prohibit students from working off campus except in rare, authorized exceptions, such as participating in an internship or work in their field of study. In these cases, for international student-athletes, the school is legally obligated to terminate their visa should they have been making money off their name, image, or likeness.

Crowe Soberman LLP (Canadian Law Firm)

Now, there are some ways around these rules. He could find an NIL deal on campus, maybe? There are also varying opinions on whether or not they can collect NIL from passive opportunities, which do not include social media appearances, etc.

If an NCAA basketball game were to come out, and they offered each D1 player a set amount to be in the game, that would be considered “passive”. Some believe he would qualify for something like that. Others do not. As long as Mitchell is here on an F-1 visa, he will be subject to these same types of weird NIL eligibility laws/rules.

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