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Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) for college athletes

Updated: May 9

How the NIL policy changed the status of student athletes from amateur to professional

In the United States, college athletics are as popular as professional sports, but despite this popularity college athletes have long been classified by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) as having amateur status. The NCAA v Alston et al. case changed the college athletics landscape though. Without going into depth about the case rulings itself, the implications are worth analysing.

The Interim NIL (“Name, Image, Likeness”) Policy, instituted by the NCAA on July 1, 2021, was one of the main implications of the case - which lifted the ban on player compensation and therefore lifting the amateur status of student athletes. In other words, college athletes are allowed to make money by signing endorsement or sponsorship deals so finally they can leverage their personal athlete brand.

Links between athletes and the business world

Since the NIL is still in its infancy and the rules, guidelines and laws continue to develop, this potentially lucrative space is probably quite a jungle for current and future college athletes. The continues adapting and changing new world should be monitored to avoid breaking any of these rules, while still being able to leverage the athlete’s likeness in the best way possible.

Several colleges offer assistance to their student athletes, by informing them about the rules, connecting them with potential partners and giving legal advice about endorsement deals. Companies such as Opendorse get involved by offering their platform as link between college athletes and the business world. Many agencies are appearing with a similar role: connecting athletes and businesses by creating sponsorship deals. At Valenze we have a slightly different take. We offer customised programs where we guide athletes through all the steps, so they learn everything that is needed to sign their next endorsement/sponsor deal.

Personal branding for college athletes

Knowing how to market yourself is an important aspect an athlete should get familiar with. With a strong personal brand, a college athlete can differentiate herself from other athletes and become interesting for businesses to partner up with. As a result, the subsequent endorsement and sponsorship deals can help a college athlete grow an income stream that the sport is not providing yet.

Does this sound interesting to you? If you are a college athlete and would like to learn how to leverage your likeness, send us a message and we will get in touch with you!

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