The founder of NIL Network, tapping into her experience as one of the first NIL admins in the country, shares three key issues impacting the NIL success of student-athletes and recommendations for administrators to consider.
CHALLENGE: In the last twenty years, information has become exponentially more accessible. Consequently, the ways we best learn have shifted dramatically, especially for younger generations. Nevertheless, the current industry standard for NIL education (e.g. prerecorded courses, lecture-based seminars) utilize the conventional approach to teaching. As a result, investments made by athletic departments in this area have been significantly underutilized.
CONSIDERATIONS: Gen Z is often characterized as being highly tech-savvy and comfortable with using digital tools and resources to learn. Therefore, NIL education that equips athletes with the skills and tools they need to take an active role in their learning, rather than simply receiving information, will be way more valuable.
CHALLENGE: Small businesses partnering with athletes from their local university for a marketing campaign makes a ton of sense. Although most student-athletes don't have massive platforms, the communities that they've built are highly engaged, hyper-localized, and heavily skewed towards the 18-24 age range, a demographic that is traditionally difficult for brands to reach authentically. However, there's a lot for them to understand - from the multiple sets of rules to how to reach athletes they want to work with - that has resulted in local businesses being slow to engage in NIL.
CONSIDERATIONS: Creating awareness and educating the local community should be a top priority in an athletic department's strategic plan for NIL. Without local businesses understanding why they'd engage in the NIL space and how to do it, opportunities for the majority of student-athletes will remain limited.
CHALLENGE: A high percentage of current student-athletes are completely turned off to NIL. Which is fine - it's an opportunity, not a requirement. However, a lot of this can be attributed to the messaging surrounding NIL. The narrative has been hyper-fixated on transactions, "NIL Valuations", and the immediate monetary benefits - storylines that aren't a reality for 99% of college athletes.
CONSIDERATIONS: For most, NIL deals won't result in life-changing money. However, NIL has a lot of benefits beyond the transactions. Student-athletes are now gaining professional skills, building their network, and adding to their resume. They are spending time learning about themselves and what they stand for, are understanding the importance of controlling their narrative, and are managing their platforms with more professionalism and intentionality. Utilizing messaging that includes the long-term benefits of NIL will resonate much more for the majority of athletes.
With experience as one of the first NIL Administrators in the country, Michelle is uniquely equipped to understand the challenges faced by athletic departments. The following services have been developed address the pain points she currently sees admins facing.
Having a comprehensive NIL program is becoming increasingly important in student-athlete recruitment and retention. However, developing one from scratch is a massive undertaking. Michelle not only built the NIL Program at San Diego State, but has tracked program trends and the growth of athletic department-provided NIL resources since early 2021.
In other words, we've done hundreds of hours of research for you. This ~20 page report analyzes nationwide trends, assesses your current offerings, and identifies budget-conscious areas for improvement.
Hiring for an NIL admin role has proved to be a challenge nationwide, with positions usually staying open for over six months. Why? Because at this time, hardly anybody in the entire country is qualified.
The admin track of the NIL Accelerator was developed specifically to support and empower new NIL hires. In this four-hour course, they'll gain an understanding of how we got here, early trends, and the current challenges faced by athletic departments. They'll learn how NIL impacts almost every department, best practices for engaging with athletes, coaches, and staff, and insights on building a leading NIL Program.
If you have NIL administrator responsibilities, you undoubtedly receive a consistent flow of pitches from NIL startups. However, deciding which ones to introduce to your athletes is a challenge. Not only do you not want to overwhelm them with options, but if the company ends up not being credible, the university could be wrapped into a lawsuit. The default for most admins, currently, is to do nothing.
The NIL Virtual Expo is the solution you're looking for: A one-hour zoom call where your athletes can learn about ~10 NIL Verified™ service providers. It's that simple.