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February 2023

    The Development of the Nascent Name, Image, and Likeness Industry A Brief History, Current Issues, And Where We’re Headed (this is Part 4 of a 4-part series examining the lead up to NIL policy reform, emerging trends and issues over the past year, where this is headed, and how NIL Network can help)Part 1: Creating The Perfect StormPart 2: The Chaotic Rollout of NIL ReformPart 3: The First Year: Opportunists Taking AdvantagePart 4: The Current NIL Predicament: Cutting Through The Noise By Michelle Meyer FOUNDER, NIL NETWORK Part 4: The Current NIL Predicament and How to Cut Through The Noise The formation of the perfect storm, chaotic rollout of NIL, and the unfortunate reality of bad actors currently in the industry has created a skeptical landscape that is inhibiting athlete success and industry growth.College Athletes Don’t Know Who To Trust.Whether they are misplacing their trust in a smooth talking “agent” or are too apprehensive to respond to a legitimate NIL service provider that wants to help them, college athletes are not well positioned to make decisions about what companies would be beneficial for them to work with. To be fair, nobody is well equipped to make these decisions. In the past two years, I’ve tracked over 400 NIL businesses that work directly with college athletes. Yet, at least half of the time when an athlete shows me a DM from a company, I have never heard of them. I imagine that there are well over a thousand NIL startups currently operating in this industry and because 90%+ of them have launched in the past year or two, not many have a proven track record or reputation to research.  Utilizing the resources, expertise, and connections of an NIL service provider will increase opportunities, both in volume of deals and in overall compensation. Additionally, and maybe more importantly, it will offload a huge amount of work from an already time-strapped college athlete. However, as long as they’re overwhelmed with options and can’t understand who is trustworthy, these services will continue to be underutilized.Athletics Administrators are Busy, Skeptical, and Restricted.BUSYAt this time, only about 10% of D1 universities have a full-time NIL administrator.But for the other 90% of athletic departments, “NIL duties” have been assigned to a staff member that already has a full plate of other assignments and priorities. They simply do not have time to research the complexities of this industry, meet with every NIL startup that emails, or understand exactly what is helpful for their athletes.SKEPTICALMany NIL service providers have quickly learned that working through an athletic department, even if not in a formal partnership, is a much more efficient way to scale than onboarding individual athletes through direct messages. On the administrator side, in turn, they are inundated with emails, LinkedIn messages, and phone calls requesting a “quick meeting” to “tell you about how our model makes it easier than ever for ALL of your athletes to monetize their NIL.. and the best part? It’s FREE!”. With the pitches using such similar messaging …

As NIL grows rapidly and enters 2024 as a billion dollar industry, more brands are jumping in and reaping the benefits of college athletes promoting their products or services. Unfortunately, there is a misconception that only the biggest and most popular athletes can deliver campaign results. Here, College Athlete Influencers explores why that’s not the case and how brands can maximize their ROI through college athlete influencers.

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