Mark Pope to receive massive NIL backing by Kentucky donors -- and his former coach?

According to a report, new Kentucky head coach Mark Pope is expected to receive a $4 million NIL pledge from donors.
Tennessee v Kentucky
Tennessee v Kentucky / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

If fans were on the fence about the new Kentucky basketball head coaching hire -- the most recent news about an NIL pledge should put their minds at ease.

After half of the fanbase seemed to be up in arms following the hire of former Kentucky player and BYU head coach Mark Pope, Rick Pitino -- and many former players and national analysts -- came to the defense of Pope and the decision.

Not only does he know what it takes to win at Kentucky, he understands the pressures that come with it. He was a standout member of the 1996 National Championship team for the Wildcats. Yes, under Pitino. So, it's not crazy to see the public support from his former coach and many former players.

But, in today's age of college basketball, it's not enough to just 'talk'. You have to put your money where your mouth is ... literally. With NIL becoming one of the main focal points of the sport, it's extremely important to have fan support.

On Friday, Kentucky and Mark Pope got that. According to Matt Jones of KSR, a $4 million pledge towards Kentucky's NIL was announced.

Not only is that a tremendous starting point, it's also a show that some of the most important people around Kentucky basketball belive Mark Pope is the right guy for the job.

Pope was a good recruiter at BYU, but was limited by the strict policies at the university. Now, the floodgates may open up for the charismatic coach. And, Pitino believes so as well.

“What some of you don’t realize is how good a basketball mind he has. How much of a relentless recruiter he will be," Pitino said in a video he posted on social media. "Recruiting is different today. We’re now coaching all pros. NIL has taken away amateur basketball and has made them professional athletes. I’m sure Kentucky is going to have a strong NIL ... You have one of the premier young coaches in the game. Relish it because he will do you proud."

Then later on Friday afternoon, Pitino sat down for an interivew with a local ESPN affiliate in Lexington. Not only did he continue his support, but also made it known that if there isn't enough NIL to go around for Kentucky, he'll write a check himself.

Yes, Pitino himself.

“I can assure you," Pitino said. "If they need the NIL money, I’ll write the check."

Mark Pope will officially be introduced as the next Kentucky head coach on Sunday afternoon where he will be able to address the Kentucky fans for the first time since his statement earlier in the week confirming the move to Lexington.