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Coaching in the NIL Era: Recruiting

by michelle
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Utilizing NIL to Optimize Your Recruiting Pitch

Previously, I shared some questions from my webinars with the coaches of the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) and United Soccer Coaches around taking a leadership role. Another question that often comes up, albeit in a more private conversation, is how to utilize NIL for recruiting advantages.


As a former D1 coach, I know that recruiting is ever-evolving and incredibly strategic. While there are still many unknowns on how NIL will influence the recruiting process, the coaches that can “talk NIL” with prospects will be at an advantage. Below are some tips and suggestions to put you in a position to confidently discuss NIL with your recruits:


STATE LAW/INSTITUTIONAL POLICY: What does your state NIL bill say (if you have one)? What does your institutional policy say? (By the way, if I don’t have your school policy or NIL company partnership listed, please let me know!) Prospects may ask about the process for using the intellectual property of the school. They may want to know if they’re permitted to get a deal with a conflicting sponsor of your institution. Being able to answer these types of questions will build confidence in your recruits. 


INSTITUTIONAL NIL RESOURCES: Is your school partnered with a third-party NIL company? What services do they offer? How do they help your athletes? If not, it’s not a deal-breaker: most institutions outside of the Power 5 have not invested in a third-party NIL company to guide and educate their athletes yet. What other opportunities does your school offer that athletes may utilize for NIL? Take a look at the course catalog to see any classes specific to entrepreneurship, social media marketing, and/or branding.


LOCATION: Is your school located in a big city or a small town? There are advantages to both: In a big city, there are more businesses. In a small town, there is more excitement and buzz around college athletes. It’s still up in the air which location type will be most advantageous in the NIL era so it’s fair game to talk up your university’s location! We’ve already seen it a dozen times with football and basketball coaches over the past few months: Every university is set in a “prime NIL location”.


FAN/ALUMNI BASE: I would absolutely recommend sending an email to your alumni base letting them know about NIL and that they can now work with your athletes. While you can’t negotiate the deals in any capacity (I’d also let them know that in your email!), you can educate them on the new opportunities. If you really want to give them some tangible guidance, you can include a link to this NIL Crowdfunding Platform where individuals can earmark donations for specific teams and positions in a future recruiting year (Disclaimer: This company has no association with myself or NIL Network; I just think this is an interesting concept)


CURRENT ATHLETE DEALS: How many of your athletes are already monetizing their NIL? How many are planning to monetize? In what ways are they taking advantage of this new opportunity? What brands are they partnered with? What platforms are they utilizing? As mentioned previously, your athletes don’t have a reporting obligation to you. However, if you take a leadership role and show your support for NIL, they may be happy to share which is a win-win for you and them.


BRAND POWER: Nick Saban infamously said in July that one of his athletes, who has yet to even start a game, has already made close to seven figures. His reasoning? The strength of the Alabama Football Brand. Can you imagine if you could offer a statistic like that to a recruit? While 99.9% of us can’t be Alabama Football, there are other ways to show your institution’s brand power. Do you have any stats on the growth of social media followings for your athletes over their collegiate careers? If not, consider asking your SID to add those questions to the pre-season information form. This stat will be a powerful recruiting tool in a few years because it will objectively demonstrate the strength of your program’s brand.


Questions? Comments? I’m always happy to chat NIL.

Send me an email: Michelle@NILnetwork.com


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