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October 2021

    The Need for Numbers, NIL for Good, and Emergence of Platforms Specific to Universities September ended quite spicy. We had a congressional hearing on the 30th to discuss federal NIL legislation. The day prior, the National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memo stating her position that some collegiate athletes are employees under the National Labor Relations act and therefore are afforded all statutory protections. Finally, Senator Richard Burr introduced legislation, NIL Scholarship Tax Act, that states that athletes that make over $20k in NIL compensation are subject to taxation on their athletic scholarship.  While all of these may have huge implications for collegiate athletes moving forward, I’m not ready to write about any of them. However, here’s a short synopsis: Congressional Hearing: While it seems everyone agrees that a federal bill is necessary, the contents of it is still up in the air. I can’t imagine that we will have one passed this school year. NLRB Memo: I’m not sure of the immediate implications of this memo but it is definitely another hit against the NCAA amateurism model and demonstrates, once again, that the government no longer has the NCAA’s back. NIL Scholarship Tax Act: Burr states, “It’s critical that we help protect the successful collegiate sports model that has provided students with educational and professional opportunities for more than a century.” I can’t be the only one missing the connection between protecting the college sports model and taxation on athletic scholarships for exceeding an arbitrary threshold in NIL earnings. From my non-legal background, I don’t see this bill going anywhere anytime soon. Onto the Fun Stuff…The Need for NumbersCall me impatient, but I’m ready to analyze some data to better understand this industry and make more projections of where we’re headed. While I’m grateful that INFLCR and Opendorse have put out some industry insight reports based on the disclosures by the athletes of the schools they’re partnered with, it’s definitely nowhere near a complete picture of what has transpired over the past few months.  Regardless of the completeness of the data, football athletes have been the early leaders in the “NIL race” for both the number of transactions and the amount of compensation. This was easy to predict, especially given that football is the first revenue-generating sport to compete after NIL reform went into effect.  As we progress through fall, I anticipate there will be a massive spike in NIL transactions and earnings. There may be ambush marketing around the bowl games (and I’m interested to see, in time, if the bowl hosts try to implement something similar to Rule 40 at the Olympics). Also, there will be a spike in partnerships between brands and basketball athletes as we get closer to their season. The “seasonality of NIL” will be an interesting trend to follow. While national partnerships may be for a full year or even multiple years, the majority will likely be for the few months that the collegiate athlete is most in the spotlight: during their season and peaking …