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NIL = GTB

Back in the day, college coaches and recruiters secretly courted athletes, and next thing you know, Big Mamma was driving a new car, and Junior was heading to play college ball.  
 
Every now and then, college athletes got the bad end of the deal, and the NCAA would sanction them, like taking away Reggie Bush’s 2005 Heisman Trophy. 
 
Thankfully or not – times have changed. Top athletes were getting their pens ready to sign NIL or Name, Image and Likeness deals as the clock struck midnight on July 1, 2021. 
The definition of NIL is simple: It is the possibility of compensation paid to NCAA student-athletes to promote, partner, or represent brands.
 
Due to their personal celebrity, student-athletes can be paid for their autographs, develop their own merchandise, promote products or services, and make event appearances. Athletes are starting their own brands, endorsing brands, and becoming their own brands.
 
What’s one thing the top three  NIL athletes – Shedeur Sanders (son of Deion Sanders), gymnast Olivia Dunne, and basketball student-athlete Bronny James (son of Lebron James) –  all have in common? They all have millions of followers on Instagram, TikTok and X (formerly Twitter). Basically, they are being paid to be social media influencers. To date, Diario AS sports magazine said more than 450,000 student-athletes across the United States have earned NIL money by partnering with local businesses in promotions. The average payout is between $1,000 to $10,000.
 
Companies you wouldn’t think of are in the NIL marketplace, such as WWE, Kool-Aid, Dr. Pepper and even cryptocurrency companies. The gold mine for the company is the athlete’s social media following. Who wants to follow a no-name model when you can see what Dunne is feeding her dog on her Instagram page (yes, ProPlan dog food has a deal with her).
 
According to the NIL tracker, these young superstars come from various sports. Runner’s World magazine reported in the spring of 2023 that Duke University steeplechase runner Emily Cole could see her NIL agreements easily top $150,000 that year. It helped that she has about 300,000 followers on TikTok and Instagram combined.
 
These NIL contracts open much-needed financial support for many athletes, especially athletes of color. Contrary to what many may believe, not every Black athlete qualifies for financial aid, and playing sports in college can be financially taxing for middle-income families. 
But these NIL contracts come with a price tag and can be a hard lesson for young athletes who may have a lot of money thrown their way or be tied to a contract with a lot of strange language. Some of the contracts are set up so that athletes get free products instead of straight compensation. In this case, the athlete either needs to pay the fees for an agent or educate themselves on how to negotiate contracts. 
An On3NIL story said, “Florida A&M track and field athlete Destini Pickens, who runs the 400-meter dash, has agreed to several NIL deals through Mitchell’s PlayBooked marketplace and she said she signed one with ZipRecruiter. Pickens said she doesn’t mind receiving free products as compensation. However, she has encountered companies, typically through Instagram, that asked her to front the money to pay for the product, then the companies say she’ll be reimbursed later.”
 
In the article, Pickens said she promptly says no to those types of agreements. The sports magazine also reported that “Athletes told On3 the most important clauses to look for in contracts relate to exclusivity (or non-competes) or perpetuity. Either one can provide a company with more of an athlete’s NIL rights than desired.”
 
Because of the sea of changes in college sports and the 2021 NIL ruling, Reggie Bush began campaigning in the summer of 2021 for his Heisman Trophy, which he earned as a running back at the University of Southern California. In April of this year, Bush’s trophy was finally returned to him. 

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