- As of Thursday, over 400,000 college athletes can monetize their name, image, and likeness.
- The historic NCAA decision rescinds a rule that barred athletes from accepting sponsorship deals.
- Boost Mobile, Unilever, and PetSmart are entering the “entrepreneurial revolution for college sports.”
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
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.
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.
-Trey Knox (@Fbu1Tk) July 2, 2021
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.'”