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June 2023

    Impact of NIL Beyond the Deals: An Unprecedented Growth Opportunity for Women’s Sports  The impact that NIL reform will ultimately have will extend beyond the deals. Way beyond.For the first two years, athletes, coaches, admins, service providers, media, brands, fans, EVERYONE around NIL has been hyper-focused on the transactional deals and dollars:“We’ve had over $3m in disclosures in the first year!”“My athletes averaged $20k each. You can expect to make at least that much if you come here!”“I now can afford to go out to eat!”It makes sense: Deals are tangible, catch headlines, and can attract recruits. And obviously without these transactions, there wouldn’t be any additional impact.But we aren’t here to talk more about the deals. We’re here to explore what’s happening BECAUSE of NIL reform and the new ACCESS to NIL opportunities. So, let’s look beyond the transactions and dive into some current trends, mindset shifts, and behavior changes that have the potential to create unprecedented growth opportunities for women’s sports.Digger Deeper Than Deals“Michelle, NIL is just pay-for-play for high-profile football and men’s basketball athletes. The typical college athlete has no marketing value. Come on now.”If I had a dollar… But I get why people may think that: Over the first two years, the media has been hyper-focused on the million dollar contracts, car deals, and recruiting inducements. Authentic brand partnerships, where a business anticipates a positive return on investment (ROI) from their marketing campaign, don’t make headlines very often. Also, if you follow NIL closely, you know that the overall participation by college athletes has been lower than most projected. Industry experts estimate that only around 20-25% of D1 athletes have completed an NIL deal. Going even further, if we remove the mass activations that were prominent for a while (e.g. Barstool, IV liquid), that percentage likely drops to between 10-15%.So, are people correct in saying that most college athletes have no NIL value? If we just analyze the transactions of the first two years, that sure is what it looks like. However, I’m confident that the first two years of data isn’t the full NIL story. Not even close.What’s Been Happening At its foundation, NIL reform has created significant new opportunities: Half a million college athletes can now be compensated through endorsements and sponsorships, something that would’ve previously cost them their NCAA eligibility. Millions of businesses, especially smaller brands that were previously entirely priced out of sports marketing, can now partner with college athletes for affordable campaigns.For both athletes and businesses across the country, these new opportunities have set off a series of mindset shifts and behavior changes.And the tangible results of those changes are barely starting to surface. Let’s dive in.For the First Time, Athletes are Incentivized to Build Their BrandsBefore NIL, there wasn’t a widely known or realized value for most college athletes to develop a personal brand, build large platforms, or to actively engage with their audience.Sure, there were anomalies of college athletes who genuinely enjoyed content creation and had a knack for being influencers. And of course, …

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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