NIL stands for “name, image, and likeness.” This is a way for a college athlete to earn compensation for using their name, image, or likeness. College athletes have been fighting for decades to have the ability to profit from their NIL as they witness how much the NCAA and schools make. Now thanks to state laws, a supreme court ruling, and NCAA making it legal, players can make a profit from anything that uses their name, image, or likeness.
So, why did NIL become a thing in college football? How much do NIL athletes make? Can colleges offer NIL deals? Can coaches get NIL deals, and is NIL a good or bad thing in college football?
Below we will discuss the NIL in further detail.
Why Did NIL Become a Thing in College Football?
College football has become a multi-billion-dollar industry, with most money going to the schools, athletic departments, and coaches. For many years the NCAA stood behind the label of student-athletes, emphasizing that players were students first and should not be making a profit from their names. However, players, once realizing how much money the NCAA was making and understood that they, like NFL players, were putting their health at risk every Saturday, found that unfair.
The NIL debate first became a major headline in 2014 when ed O’Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player, challenged the NCAA in court for using the player’s NIL in commercials. This challenge heated the debate leading to California proposing the Fair pay to play Act in 2019. By 2021 several other states had followed suit, legalizing the right for players to earn money from their NIL within their states.
Then in June 2021, the supreme court, in the case of NCAA v. Alston, ruled the NCAA could not prevent players from making educated-related payments. The NCAA then deferred the decision to the states before making it legal across the board for players to do so.
How Much Do NIL Athletes Make?
How much a nil player can depend on various factors, including what sport they play, social media popularity, overall market value, and city/state they play in.
A NIL athlete can expect to make anywhere from $1,000 – $10,000 through endorsement deals, but as mentioned before, external factors contribute to how much you can make from these deals. For instance, with college football being one of the more popular college sports, you would expect that these players would be able to make more money through deals than volleyball players.
Can Colleges offer NIL Deals to Athletes?
Per NCAA NIL policy, schools are not allowed to offer players NIL deals. Players can only make money through their NIL through outside partnerships or sponsorships, and they must actually “do something “to earn money. These deals are also not supposed to influence where a player decides to attend school.
Can College Coaches get NIL Deals?
The recent battle for college players to have a right to their NIL did not affect coaches, as they were already allowed to make money from their NIL. Coaches for years had been making money from appearing in commercials or speaking engagements. The only difference is now more eyes will pay attention to how much they make from these different revenue streams.
Is NIL a Good or Bad Thing in College Football?
Ever since the NCAA rules became favorable for NIL, there has been debate about whether NIL is good for college football or not. However, many football players would unanimously say it is suitable for college players as it allows them to profit off something the NCAA has been profiting from for years without their input.
Where the debate comes in is with the coaches. Nick Saban of Alabama has been the most prominent critic of the NIL, pointing out how in his belief, it potentially devalues the game of college football but also because it can affect recruiting. He has mentioned he has no issue with players being able to make money but has expressed that the NIL rules need to be policed and structured carefully to avoid any team getting an advantage. He recently got into a dispute with Jimbo fisher of Texas A&M, claiming that specific coaches, thanks to the NIL collectives, know how much money they can offer a player to convince them to come to their school. Jimbo fisher refuted those claims as doing such a thing would be a rules violation.
What Does the Future Hold for NIL?
With the NIL only appearing in 2021, the jury is still out on whether it is good moving forward. Players like it because it gives them the chance to make money. Many coaches do not like it because it may drive recruits to certain schools not only because of the NIL collectives, but specific markets like Miami or New York present better opportunities than Kentucky or Arkansas for endorsement deals.
The NCAA may view it as bad because they view college athletes as student-athletes and feel that schooling should be the players’ priority, not making money and being in commercials. So only time will whether the NIL is good for college football or not.
Conclusion: What is NIL in college football
The NIL, in a nutshell, is a player being able to make money off of their appearance. Players in the NBA and MLB have been doing the same thing since the creation of their sports. Likewise, college athletes felt it was their time to have the same benefits.
It was thanks to brave people like ED O’Bannon who spoke up for the rights of the players, and today players make between $1,000 – $10,000, but predictions have this average going as high as $500,000 in the next few years. Nick Saban has even stated that a few players on his team have made over $3 million in the last year. With the rise of social media, nil laws now in place, the doors are wide open for what players could make.
Whether it is good for college football will need to be determined in the future. However, for now, it is here and does not appear to be leaving anytime soon.