How Has NIL Impacted Collegiate Athletics?

On June 30, 2021, the NCAA‘s Board of Governors unanimously voted to allow college athletes to “benefit from the use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL).” This ruling, which went into effect immediately, has major implications for high school football student-athletes and their college decisions. 

First and foremost, it has given athletes more control over their own brand. They are now able to sign endorsement deals, participate in paid appearances, and profit from the sale of their own merchandise. 

In addition, this ruling has led to increased competition for scholarships and recruiting attention. As a result, high school student-athletes need to be aware of these changes and adjust their recruiting strategies accordingly. 

If you’re a student-athlete who is interested in playing sports at the collegiate level, make sure you’re up to date on the latest recruiting news so that you can put yourself in the best position to succeed. 

A past entry on The Wire discusses the basics of NIL and how it pertains to student-athletes. Since then, there have been a handful of developments and updates to the landscape of NIL that have made it necessary to touch on the topic again.

How NIL Panned Out

What followed after the introduction of student-athlete controlled NIL?

Right away, it was common to see paid social media advertisements being posted on social media by student-athletes. There were handfuls of endorsement announcements from brands themselves, or the players. 

Partnerships ranged from NFT deals to Nike deals. There were even local partnerships with car dealerships or restaurants. Of course, many student-athletes also signed with agents, after finally being given the opportunity to do so.

The next logical step was collectives. 

The idea, in layman’s terms, is that wealthy stakeholders surrounding a college football program pool their money together in order to be able to facilitate brand endorsements and sponsorships on behalf of college athletes. 

Ideally, it would make it easier on all parties involved. Perhaps more importantly, there’d be additional money available to be distributed toward student-athletes.

Without any real regulations, collectives were being seen as a way for boosters to legally enter back into the fold. It has created a relatively chaotic college recruiting atmosphere and the NCAA has taken notice.

Updates Since July 2021

Prior to July 2021, speculation ran rampant as to how everything would play out. Now, more than a year later, there’s a better sense of its impact on the collegiate athletics landscape.

How have collectives impacted the sport?

What it essentially has turned into, is a way for boosters to circumvent the system, and pay athletes to come to their school through the guise of sponsorships/endorsements. The logistics of how this is able to occur are complex and beside the point. But this topic has been starkly debated and will continue to be. 

“We all know what is going on at some places, and it’s now the wild, wild west,” said a Power-5 head football coach. “It’s out of control, and it’s been getting dramatically worse by the week, it seems.”

Recently, updates have made rules and regulations more clear surrounding collectives. 

From the beginning, NIL deals were never allowed to be inducements to recruit a player to a certain school. Over time, the worry arose that this was beginning to take place. Taking swift action, the NCAA has announced that collectives now count as “boosters.” This will allow for the NCAA to investigate collectives in order to ensure that no wrongdoing is occurring. 

So, while they are an effective method to obtain NIL deals, collectives will now become more of a background entity – one that puts deals in place rather than executes them outright.

Keep this in mind when having communications with schools or potential collectives. If something seems sketchy, or like it’s being done behind closed doors, take note. It will likely come to the surface at some point, and it could derail your experience as a student-athlete.

NIL Implications on Transfer Portal

As we all know by now, the NCAA transfer portal has created what amounts to free agency in college football. With new NIL availability in place, student-athletes are more inclined to leave behind schools for more lucrative opportunities elsewhere.

This development has led to some college football officials to call for updates to the transfer portal in order to mitigate the player turnover. 

Gary Barta, a well-respected AD with the University of Iowa, and chairman of the College Football Playoff committee, has voiced his opinion on how NIL has impacted college football, and more specifically, the transfer portal. 

Gary Barta

Gary Barta

He advocates for NCAA institutions to bring back one year of ineligibility for student-athletes who transferred. This would be seen as a way to curb the chaotic nature of college football where student-athletes are transferring at an all-time high.

“A booster isn’t going to offer a student-athlete a big sum of money if they know if they come to their university, they have to sit out a year,” Barta states.

This would seem to suggest that NIL collectives, deals, and relative staying power is seen as a given, whereas the transfer portal is susceptible to change and updates. NCAA program stakeholders want minimal transfers, and with NIL money here to stay, this is their next play in the continued effort to monopolize power.

Still, meetings are being held, the NCAA and its member-schools are doing everything they can to minimize the effect that NIL has on their operations. 

Ultimately, as written by Ari Wasserman of The Athletic, “NIL is going to play a factor in where players sign and transfer.”

It’s part of the game from here on out. How it will continue to evolve and affect the landscape of the sport is a question for a later time. 

“It’s going to take time for the market to settle,” said Wasserman. “It’s going to take time for every program to get a collective up and running. And it’s going to take some time for everything to feel normal given the drastic evolution of the sport has undergone in the past year.”

His advice?

Take a deep breath and let everything play out.

Considering the evolving nature of NIL’s impact on collegiate athletics, The Wire will return to this topic in the future. In the meantime, stay tuned for more recruiting resources, news, and tips.

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