By Ken Reed
As of July 1st, college athletes — from the lowest levels to the highest levels, and from the most obscure non-revenue sports to the highly commercialized sports of football and men’s basketball — can begin to be compensated for the use of their name, image and likeness (NIL). In short, they can become entrepreneurs, just like any other students on campus.
More than a half-dozen states have laws that went into effect on July 1st which allow athletes to profit from their NILs. They also prevent the NCAA from interfering. The NCAA has fought this movement from the beginning. But even NCAA bureaucrats see the writing on the wall. The NCAA is now looking to Congress to step in and provide a uniform NIL law across the country. In the meantime, the NCAA is expected to unveil a stopgap plan any day now that will allow college athletes in all 50 states to be compensated for NIL usage. Athletes in states with NIL laws now in force would follow those rules, while universities and colleges in other states would set their own NIL policies.
Most of the conversation around college athletes and NILs in recent years has focused on the income potential of star athletes on big-time football and basketball teams. However, a surprising beneficiary of the new regulations will be non-revenue athletes.
As an example, many non-revenue athletes have developed huge social media followings that can be monetized. According to Blake Lawrence, CEO of Opendorse, a company that works with colleges on NIL programming possibilities, the estimated value of a social media account is determined by followers. A tweet can be worth $10 per 1000 followers. Lawrence believes athlete Instagram accounts can be worth up to $20 per follower. TikTok followers are in the range of $3-$4 and YouTube followers range from $4-$7. Companies can measure likes, comments, retweets and shares. Soon, athletes, from all sports, will be paid to be influencers.
When it comes to college athletic departments, those programs that have prepared for NIL Independence Day will gain a competitive advantage from liberal new NIL rules. For example, the University of Colorado has already launched a “Buffs with a Brand” initiative which will provide all their athletes a comprehensive NIL program that teaches them how to benefit from a personal brand and entrepreneurial efforts. The University of Nebraska is also a leader in NIL programming for its athletes. They are helping their athletes understand the new NIL world and are offering advice on how to take advantage of potential new opportunities. For example, Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez has started a podcast with NIL in mind and is thinking about putting his name on a football camp and signing his autograph for money.
The road to economic justice for college athletes has been long, and there are many miles yet to travel, but July 1, 2021 will be a nice milestone along the route.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. He previously covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for The Athletic. His new book is titled “How to Beat a Broken Game: The Rise of the Dodgers in a League on the Brink.” We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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