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 #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
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Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon