On June 21, 2021, name, image, and likeness rights for college athletes were cemented for college athletes in NCAA policy and some state-level laws. As a result, athletes can earn money through product endorsements, social media deals, promotional activities, appearances, autographs, camps and clinics as long as they maintain their amateur athlete status and eligibility for NCAA competitions.
Related: Athlete Feature: Decoldest Crawford’s Unique NIL Opportunity
Although many see this as a step in the right direction towards athletes getting their earned compensation, there are still many concerns with the ruling. If you’re a college athlete looking to cash in on your NIL, make sure you’re aware of the pros and cons of doing so.
Cons of NIL:
- Some athletes may switch their focus from academics to attending school where the NIL market is booming, prioritizing earning money over quality academics.
- Highschoolers also might start drifting toward powerhouse sports programs with potential to maximize NIL endorsements, over smaller schools where they can play more and possibly fit better academically.
- NIL can create imbalances between players, some of whom have a better chance to receive deals than others. NIL also creates imbalances between different sports, where those in more revenue-generating sports may have more opportunities
- Male athletes overall have more opportunities and more significant earning potential than women.
- Black female college athletes may have the least earning options of all, contributing to existing financial restraints for marginalized groups.
Related: Using Instagram to Market NIL: 8 Tips for Athletes
Pros of NIL:
- NIL provides assistance for those relying on financial aid (or walk-ons and D3 athletes who don’t receive scholarships)
- NIL can relieve the emotional stress of those who must raise the funds for their tuition on their own
- Athletes with a strong social media presence on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok have a high earning potential for business endorsements
- College athletes can foster more network of connections to build their brands and gain experience in the industry before graduating
- Although inequality still exists, NIL can enable marginalized sports and players to gain more visibility.
There’s no right or wrong way decision when it comes to deciding whether or not to engage in NIL activities. Just make sure you’re informed and making the right decisions for yourself.
* Originally published on November 14, 2022, by Ava Soodek