The landmark decision to allow student athletes in college to profit off of their name, image and likeness has completely changed the game. Social media has allowed players to double down on the idea of their brand, and this policy change will only enhance focus on an individual athlete’s desire to increase their presence on campus and beyond. Throughout the next five years, we’ll have a chance to see how the landscape of NIL will work in practicality after being discussed for decades.
Without going out on too much of a limb, it seems apparent that athletes in the Division I major sports stand to benefit immensely from this shift. University of Connecticut women’s basketball star Paige Bueckers stands to immediately cash in, potentially to the staggering tune of $1 million for every seasons she’s filling it up in Storrs. While Bueckers and other elite prospects shouldn’t feel bad about raking in this type of money, what happens to student athletes competing in lesser known sports?
The University of North Carolina has implemented a potential solution to this inherent inequity. The Tar Heel athletic program has created a group licensing deal, which is believed to be the first in the country.
“This is an outstanding opportunity because it will allow our student-athletes to benefit, together, with our trademarks and logos,” said Bubba Cunningham, who is the school’s Director Of Athletics. “I have long supported the group licensing concept because it can positively impact so many student-athletes.” Via The Athletic
Without delving too much into a capitalism versus socialism debate as it pertains to this topic, this would appear to be a positive step for all athletes at a university. North Carolina’s setup for collective earning potential allows three or more players within a sport to be promoted together with the UNC brand. It also allows players across six or seven sports to be featured together in campaigns. The school has partnered with The Brandr Group to help facilitate marketing endeavors in this regard.
An elite fencer, golfer, or lacrosse player might have some opportunities to make money based on their NIL, but they figure to be few and far between. UNC has laid the groundwork for athletes competing in non-major sports to earn money, but how they, or other programs will include these athletes remains to be seen. Will universities decide in advance which programs and which players are marketed with their basketball and football teams? Would players in higher revenue generated sports get a higher percentage of proceeds in this shared model?
There are certainly aspects of the initial framework that need clarification, but having a mechanism for NIL profits to trickle down to more athletes is a winning idea.