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Think NIL Is Solely Benefitting Top Stars? Think Again

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

Exactly one month into the NIL era of college athletics, On3—a college sports and recruiting website—published an article that examined the impact of NIL deals already transpiring for NCAA student-athletes.

The concise report highlighted several key takeaways, but none more significant than the fact that “53 percent of all transactions were reported by athletes playing sports outside of football or men’s and women’s basketball.” This important percentage demonstrates a flaw in the argument of many NIL critics who claimed that NIL would only benefit Alabama’s starting QB, or Duke’s star point guard.

This is not to say that Alabama’s Bryce Young will not generate substantial revenue. In fact, head coach Nick Saban recently admitted the quarterback has received “ungodly” offers of “almost seven figures”.

But the headlines around massive NIL deals do not represent what the novel NIL era is all about. As impressive as the six-figure deals are, the new legal policy allows all NCAA student-athletes from all three divisions to compensate off their Name, Image and Likeness.

On3’s report uses research from INFLCR, a brand-building company that has over 100,000 athlete users. Their findings confirmed that:

  • 1,361 total transactions had taken place as of July 29

  • Transactions totaled $1.256 million, with an average transaction value of $923

  • 10% of transactions came from lacrosse, swimming, or diving athletes—most commonly from lessons and summer camp transactions

  • 12% of transactions came from non-Power 5 schools

It’s also important to note that this is an early snapshot, not a full list of comprehensive data. INFLCR is not the only company that works with student-athletes to monetize their NIL, as brands like Opendorse aim to disrupt the emerging space as well.

Major sports and entertainment agencies have also started to recruit athletes for NIL marketing purposes, such as CAA Football landing Bryce Young, and Wasserman recruiting Paige Bueckers (who could make over $1M while still at UConn).

Although only 1% of registered athletes made NIL transactions through INFLCR’s platform in the first month, expect these numbers to rise as football and basketball season come into full effect.

INFLCR’s CEO Jim Cavale believes “we’re going to see double (those figures) next month or the month after because it’s starting to ramp up.” Although the start to the NIL era may seem slow, the principle that all college athletes can now monetize their Name, Image and Likeness remains that paramount takeaway.

As exciting as the news story about UMiami QB D’Eriq King signing one of the first NIL deals worth $20,000 was, let’s not forget about the Division II softball player who can now legally make money from hosting a summer camp, or the Division III wrestler who can now profit off 1-on-1 lessons at his small-town college.

The policy enacted by the NCAA was long overdue, and it’s essential to remember there are over 450,000 college athletes out there—including ones at schools people have never heard of—that can now make money off their name, image and likeness.

Brendan Duggan is a 1L at Brooklyn Law School. You can find him on Twitter @SidelineDuggs.

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