NIL NETWORK INSIGHT
Recap: Universities are developing and announcing their NIL services and programs. Some schools are choosing to go completely in house, leaning on their business schools for education around financial literacy and entrepreneurship, while others are contracting with 3rd parties such as Opendorse or INFLCR. The obvious goal of these NIL programs is for use by coaches on the recruiting trail and to ensure they don’t fall behind their competitors.
Observations: NIL resources have certainly become the hottest new recruiting tool for schools. Since the rules haven’t been completely sorted out yet, it will be interesting to see if their early investments will pay off or if athletic departments will be back-tracking due to their NIL services being deemed “illegal”. One particular point of contention is around NIL companies that are contracted by the university but then are also causing profit for individual athletes (ex through a marketplace connecting athletes with brands). In most of the state laws, this is prohibited but the language is vague and can be interpreted in different ways. It is also interesting to speculate who will be responsible for interpreting the state bills and determining what is permissible or not. With so many NIL companies waiting on July 1, this will be a hot topic all summer.
There is Arizona Edge and Buffs with a Brand. Oklahoma State rolled out OSU Elite and Texas Tech launched Beyond Verified.
Florida State unveiled Apex in April with a social media video that included clips of former Seminoles sports stars from Deion Sanders to Burt Reynolds. The program Alabama created to help its athletes monetize their names, images and likenesses is simply called The Advantage.
Behind the catchy names is a sense of urgency from the schools: College sports is entering a new era, one where athletes will be permitted to be paid endorsers and social media influencers without fear of running afoul of NCAA rules.
On July 1, laws in five states will go into effect that will usurp current NCAA regulatons prohibiting NIL compensation for athletes. As of now, the NCAA is lagging behind on its pledge to “modernize” its rules on the subject, but schools from coast to coast are not waiting.