Friday, 14 Jun 2024

Getting Started in Name, Image, and Likeness

We’ve all heard the buzz around Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) in college athletics. Headlines like “Junior in high school signs $8m NIL deal with Tennessee collective” and “Angel Reese NIL valuation soars to $1.3m after March Madness run” have captured our attention. But what’s the reality? Let’s dive in and understand the current landscape of NIL and set realistic expectations.

Understanding the Landscape & Setting Expectations

NIL has opened up opportunities for around 500,000 NCAA athletes to use their name, image, and likeness for commercial and/or promotional purposes. This means they can accept compensation for being featured in ads or endorsing products, as well as market their own engagements, brand, or business.

However, let’s not get carried away. In the first year, only 1,000-2,000 athletes made over $50,000, which accounts for just 0.2-0.4% of all NCAA athletes. The national headlines surrounding NIL may create unrealistic expectations, but it’s important to have a clear understanding of the current landscape.

The Current Landscape

Since the NCAA amended their bylaws to permit college athletes to monetize their NIL, there has been a chaotic rollout, patchwork of laws, and an overall lack of preparation. This has resulted in a smaller market than initially projected. But don’t worry, things are looking up.

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High school athletes are now incorporating NIL strategy into their college prep, and businesses/brands are becoming more confident in their NIL campaigns. This means the industry and the opportunities for athletes will continue to grow steadily in the next 5+ years.

What 99.6% of College Athletes Should Expect

NIL is not a handout; it requires hard work and dedication. For most college athletes, participating in NIL is like having a part-time job. It involves research, strategic planning, and outreach to be successful.

But why bother? College athletes are not able to work traditional part-time jobs like their peers because they are full-time students and full-time athletes. NIL provides them with an opportunity to earn income while pursuing their passion.

During these initial years of NIL, it’s unlikely that brands will be reaching out to the average college athlete with partnership opportunities. Successful non high-profile athletes have taken the initiative to create their own NIL deals. They have approached marketing managers, explained what NIL is, and pitched campaign ideas that provide a great return on investment for businesses. Being proactive and entrepreneurial can lead to countless opportunities that may not be available in the future when businesses have a strategic approach to NIL.

NIL Is Not Life Changing Money

While the average compensation for a D1 athlete per NIL deal is around $4,262, there are a few nuances to consider. The way the data is collected may skew the average. Athletes can choose to disclose their deals in different ways, which can affect how the numbers are reported. Additionally, the outliers in NIL deals significantly impact the average, with the median reported to be around $60 per deal.

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But there’s more than just money at stake. Engaging in the NIL space can provide long-term benefits, such as developing business skills, building a professional network, and adding valuable experiences to a resume. Many college athletes have turned their brand partnerships into full-time jobs after graduation.

NIL for Volleyballers

If you’re a women’s volleyball athlete, there is great potential in the NIL space. According to Opendorse, women’s volleyball ranks fourth overall for total NIL compensation and third overall for total NIL activities. However, success in the NIL space requires time, research, and proactive strategies.

For inspiration, check out these three volleyballers who have navigated the NIL space in unique ways:

  • Chloe Mitchell: An NAIA athlete who built a following on TikTok by sharing DIY projects.
  • Danielle Hart: A phenomenal artist who sells her art nationwide.
  • Sarah Morbitzer: Found her NIL niche running camps and clinics in the Columbus area.


  1. How many college athletes have made significant money from NIL?

    • In the first year, only 1,000-2,000 athletes made over $50,000, which is a small percentage of all NCAA athletes.
  2. Will brands reach out to college athletes for NIL partnerships?

    • It’s unlikely that brands will reach out to average college athletes. Successful athletes have taken the initiative to create their own NIL deals by approaching marketing managers and pitching campaign ideas.
  3. Is NIL only about making money?

    • No, NIL provides opportunities for athletes to develop their business skills, build their professional network, and add to their resume.
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Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) has opened up new possibilities for NCAA athletes. While the national headlines may create unrealistic expectations, it’s important to understand the current landscape and set realistic goals. Engaging in NIL requires hard work, initiative, and strategic planning. It’s not just about making money; it’s about developing valuable skills and creating opportunities that can have a long-term impact.

For more information on NIL and how it can benefit you, visit Alpinetgheep.