These college athletes could make millions now that a recent NCAA ruling allows them to make money off their name and likeness for the first time

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Olivia Dunne, an LSU gymnast and former member of the USA national gymnastics team, has millions of followers on both Tik Tok and Instagram. Before Thursday, the 18-year-old student athlete couldn’t monetize her social-media fame.

A historic NCAA ruling changes that: 400,000 college athletes can now make money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL).

Before this week, the NCAA owned the publicity rights of student athletes as part of scholarship terms and agreements.

After years of public pressure, athletes can now profit from the billion-dollar college sports industry made possible by the students themselves. Analysts predict that individual student athletes could make anywhere from $500 – $2 million a year off of their NIL.

“The most marketable athletes could conceivably be earning upwards of seven figures per year,” Darren Heitner, the top NIL sports lawyer, told Insider. “I expect a lot of deals with food and beverage, restaurant, automobile, and sport-specific brands coming in the near future.”

The athletes and companies poised to make the most from NIL deals

Twin Tik Tok personalities Hanna and Haley Cavinder were some of the first athletes to make NIL deals. The top-scoring Fresno State basketball players are now spokeswomen for Boost Mobile, a wireless telecommunications brand.


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Student athletes with large social media followings like the twins and Dunne are best positioned for big-time sponsorships.

Sports analyst Darren Rovell ranks Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler as a potential deal favorite, aided by his appearance in a Netflix feature filmed when he was in high school. Paige Bueckers, a highly decorated player on UConn’s women’s basketball team, is also projected to make significant money from future sponsorships.

Trey Knox, a wide receiver on the University of Arkansas football team, announced a deal with PetSmart on Thursday.

Unilever said it plans to invest $5 million over the next five years on college-athlete partnerships with its deodorant brand Degree. A company spokesperson told ESPN that male and female athletes will be paid equally, with recruits from a diversity of sports and backgrounds.

EA Sports, the publisher of popular video games FIFA and Madden, is looking into potentially including real college players in its games, according to a report by Axios.

“It’s still very early stages at this point,” a spokesperson told Axios. “We plan to explore the possibility of including players in ‘EA Sports College Football.'”

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The Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the NCAA’s limits on compensation for student athletes

NCAA logo
  • The Supreme Court ruled in favor of college athletes in the Alston vs. NCAA supreme court case.
  • Justices ruled that the NCAA can’t limit education-related benefits for college athletes.
  • The ruling did not address whether athletes can be paid directly or profit from endorsements.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

ON MONDAY, the US Supreme Court ruled against the National Collegiate Athletic Association in the Alston vs. NCAA case about limitations on compensation for student-athletes.

In an opinion written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling, saying the NCAA can no longer ban colleges from providing student-athletes with education-related benefits.

“By permitting colleges and universities to offer enhanced education-related benefits, its decision may encourage scholastic achievement and allow student-athletes a measure of compensation more consistent with the value they bring to their schools,” the decision read. “The national debate about amateurism in college sports is important. But our task as appellate judges is not to resolve it. Nor could we. Our task is simply to review the district court judgment through the appropriate lens of antitrust law.”

The benefits include computers, paid internships, tutoring, study abroad programs, musical instruments, etc.

The case was led by former West Virginia University football player Shawne Alston and former University of California women’s basketball player Justine Hartman.

The court found the limits violated “anti-trust principles,” with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing in a concurring opinion that the NCAA’s business model would be “flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.”

The case was brought by former Division I men’s and women’s college athletes, who had accused the NCAA of violating anti-trust laws through its eligibility rules regarding compensation for student-athletes.

The NCAA previously had a $5,000 cap on what schools could provide above and beyond free tuition, room, and board, but now all schools can and likely offer more educational resources to their athletes.

One of the most significant education-related benefits that lawmakers and activists, including senator Cory Booker and ESPN college sports analyst Rod Gilmore, have been pushing for is unlimited tuition money for student-athletes that extends past their athletic eligibility.

Previous NCAA policy forbade universities from offering further scholarships to college athletes once their eligibility to play a sport ended, which resulted in lower graduation rates among athletes than the average student body at most universities.

The Supreme Court’s decision now opens the door for other anti-trust lawsuits that former and current athletes may choose to file against the NCAA for capping their education-related benefits. That would also include paying student-athletes.

Black college football players, in particular, could have the makings for a class-action lawsuit, as graduation rates among that group have steadily declined to record-low numbers over the past three years, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports.

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In a potential 2024 preview, Tucker Carlson and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem sparred over the NCAA and transgender athletes

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Fox News host Tucker Carlson interviews Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem.

  • Potential 2024 hopefuls Tucker Carlson and Kristi Noem butted heads on Fox News Monday night.
  • While the debate was ostensibly about transgender athletes, it previewed their 2024 messaging.
  • “No, that’s not right at all, Tucker,” Noem said at one point. “In, fact, you’re wrong. Completely.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An otherwise routine appearance for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Fox News Monday night quickly turned tense when host Tucker Carlson began asking if she was “caving” to the NCAA by not signing a bill on transgender women athletes.

Both Carlson and Noem have been the subject of heavy speculation that they’ll run for president in 2024, making them potential GOP primary opponents.

Insider first reported on chatter in Republican circles about a possible Carlson run back in July. Noem currently sits at number seven in Insider’s 2024 GOP primary power rankings, while Carlson is unranked, given the lack of clarity over whether he’s serious about a run, a notion he has previously described as “insane.”

The bill in question would bar trans women and girls from competing in women’s sports in South Dakota.

As Insider’s Madison Hall and Kayla Epstein previously reported, South Dakota’s bill is one of 36 similar pieces of legislation being pushed by GOP controlled legislatures across the country as the issue becomes a priority for the party.

In her Fox News hit, Noem tried to explain that signing the bill could lead to a drawn out court battle that the state would likely lose.

Carlson then cut her off and paraphrased what she was explaining.

“But wait, wait, wait – so you’re saying the NCAA threatened you, and you don’t think you can win that fight,” Carlson said. “They said if you sign this, they won’t allow girls in South Dakota to play, and you don’t think you can win in court, even though the public overwhelmingly supports you nationally, and so you’re caving to the NCAA. I think that’s what you’re saying.”

“No, that’s not right at all, Tucker,” Noem responded. “In, fact, you’re wrong. Completely. I’ve been working on this issue for years.”

Later on, Carlson described her decision as the result of when “big business intercedes, [the] NCAA, Chamber of Commerce and Amazon and tell you not to sign it, and you change your mind.”

“Well, that’s not true, Tucker,” Noem replied, appearing to grow increasingly irritated.

At another point, Carlson asked why Noem was talking about Title IX – the legal standard which prevents colleges and universities from discriminating in athletics or academics by gender – when “this is thousands of years of common sense and tradition.”

The exchange offered a possible sample of what their messaging to Republican voters could look like in a primary matchup between the two.

“Girls play girls sports. Boys play boys sports,” Carlson continued. “Why not, instead, just say, ‘Bring it on, NCAA. I’m a national figure. Go ahead and try and exclude us. I will fight you in the court of public opinion and defend principle.’ Why not just do that?”

Noem said Carlson was “preaching my sermon,” and that “I’m not interested in a participation trophy.”

“I’m not interested in picking a fight that we can’t win,” Noem continued. “I am a problem solver. I want to come to the table and I don’t want to have talking points. And I’ve been bullied for the last year by liberals, Tucker.”

The South Dakota governor then positioned herself as someone who’s interested in getting results instead of pursuing Carlson’s scorched earth strategy.

“I’m not gonna let anybody from the NCAA, from any big business – I’m not gonna even let conservatives on the right bully me,” she said. “I’m gonna solve the problem. I’m gonna make sure that we’re building strength in numbers … and make sure that we’re keeping only girls playing in girls sports.”

As Carlson kept pushing back, Noem turned the tables and began pressing the host over whether he’d read what she was talking about.

“Well did you read the bill or the style and reform message that I sent to the legislature?” Noem said.

“I did. I did. Yes, but I’m – ” Carlson said, before Noem cut him off and wrapped up her final remarks for the segment.

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Dick’s Sporting Goods says it will provide equipment to women’s NCAA tournament after viral photos showed fitness room was lacking

FILE PHOTO: A Dick's Sporting Goods store is closed due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Washington, DC, U.S. April 10, 2020.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
A Dick’s Sporting Goods store is closed due to the outbreak of coronavirus in Washington

  • Dick’s Sporting Goods tweeted that it will bring fitness equipment to female NCAA athletes.
  • Viral photos showed that the women’s fitness room in the NCAA bubble was sparser than the men’s.
  • Players pointed out other unequal treatment including food and COVID-19 tests.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Dick’s Sporting Goods offered to bring fitness equipment to the NCAA women after viral videos revealed the unequal treatment female basketball players received from the organization compared to the men’s teams.

Stanford sports performance coach Ali Kershner shared photos comparing the setups for men and women provided by the NCAA. The men’s room was full of weights and professional equipment, while the women’s space appeared to only have yoga mats and small dumbbells.

A post shared by Ali Kershner, MS, CSCS (@kershner.ali)

Teams playing in the March Madness NCAA tournaments will be in a bubble for three weeks sharing hotels and workout spaces in Indianapolis until the sweet sixteen.

Critics have pointed out other discrepancies in the organization’s treatment of male and female athletes, from different food to even different types of daily COVID-19 tests.

Fans, players, and members of the media called further attention to the discrepancy on social media.

On Friday, sports retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods tweeted “Our teammates have worked quickly to get truckloads of fitness equipment ready” to bring to the women’s workoutroom, with photos of U-Hauls.

Orange Theory also tweeted that it will make studios available for female athletes to train.

The NCAA has also since released a statement. “We acknowledge that some of the amenities teams would typically have access to have not been as available inside the controlled environment. In part, this is due to the limited space, and the original plan was to expand the workout area once additional space was available later in the tournament” NCAA vice president for women’s basketball Lynn Holzman said in a statement to the media.

“However, we want to be responsive to the needs of our participating teams, and we are actively working to enhance existing resources at practice courts, including additional weight training equipment.”

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