College student-athletes nationwide earning money through “NIL”
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - In just one year, the college football landscape has undergone a seismic shift. Players are now earning money not for playing their sports, but for the use of their name, image or likeness. It’s called “NIL,” and it’s been in effect for just over a year.
“We are talking about potentially over one billion dollars in spending for year two of NIL. That’s what our data shows and we’re certainly on track to make that happen,” said Julian Valentin, the head of brand and athlete marketing company Opendorse. It is a national marketplace for college and pro athletes.
Valentin says it will become increasingly important for boosters and businesses that support university sports and teams to get organized and adapt to this new environment. “The institutions that invest are going to have a leg up and they’re going to create really nice opportunities for their student athletes to make the most of this moment,” said Valentin.
Schools themselves are still prohibited from paying athletes, but money is flowing in from businesses and fans. As a result, organizations known as collectives are popping up across the country. Their mission is to pool money and get it to the student-athletes in their communities.
“Whether you agree with the new NIL landscape that exists or not, here we are,” said Jeff Burg, President of the Sun Angel Collective, which raises money for ASU student-athletes.
Burg says his organization is prohibited from coordinating payments with the athletic department. And the athletes need to perform some tasks in order to receive compensation. “Here’s what we can’t do. We can’t pay a player for performance,” said Burg. “These deals, whether they are made at a collective at a school or whether they are made with a brand, they all have work that’s required to be done by them to earn that money.”
According to Opendorse, the most common “quid pro quo” is posting online. Not everyone agrees that payments to student-athletes are a positive development. Some coaches worry about locker room jealousy because some players will ultimately earn more than others.
Student-athletes already navigate busy schedules between class, practice and travel for games. The time it may take to perform other tasks for money could add an additional distraction. And some students, who graduate with student loans, believe players were already getting paid through their scholarships.
“The data shows that most student athletes are not on the scholarship, so they do have to find ways to bridge the financial gap to pay for their education, to pay for all their expenses,” said Valentin.
But the reality is that most of the NIL money will go to top players, and they are on scholarships. “It showed the amount of money that’s flowing in college football. And college sports. Just a ton of money going around,” said George Hart, whose son plays for ASU.
Hart’s son and Byron Green’s son were both walk-on players last year. They proved themselves on the field, and both players earned scholarships this season.
But both parents say they spoke to their sons about the temptation of big money and how it could affect their dedication to their studies, sport and team. “He said you taught me to be a man and if I gave my word, that’s what I’m going to do. When I give my word, I’m going to commit to that program,” said Byron Green.
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