- Claire Kaufmann, Sport Management, University of Delaware
- Matthew Robinson, Hospitality & Sport Management, University of Delaware
Over the past two years, there has been a shift in the world of collegiate athletics due to the implementation of the NCAA’s name, image, and likeness (NIL) policies. These policies previously prevented student-athletes from capitalizing on anything related to their identity as athletes. However, a Supreme Court ruling in 2021 led to a reevaluation of these regulations.
One athlete affected by the previous regulations was Olivia Dunne, a successful gymnast who amassed a large following on TikTok but couldn’t monetize her social media presence. After the revised regulations were put into place, Dunne was able to accumulate a net worth of about $2.3 million through endorsements, brand deals, merchandise sales, and clinics.
The implementation of NIL policies also led to the emergence of collectives and agencies to help athletes manage their opportunities. While some athletes have secured major contracts with well-known brands, it has become apparent that only a small percentage of athletes benefit significantly from NIL deals. Big-name companies have crafted hefty contracts for star players, leading to an unequal distribution of earnings among athletes. Many athletes have joined agencies to navigate opportunities.
The future of NIL looks promising, particularly for athletes who continue to establish their brand. While securing contracts with major companies may be challenging for some athletes, there are still benefits to be gained from local sponsorship deals. However, there are caveats, as some athletic departments have exclusive agreements with sportswear companies, limiting opportunities for athletes. The future may bring more investments from companies and athletes creating their own businesses. Many universities are providing resources and seminars for athletes, but there is still room for growth, particularly in financial literacy.