Up until June 30th 2021, NCAA athletes were not able to benefit financially off of their skills and such other than the educational scholarships that they were receiving. This has been a long going argument amongst college athletes, fans, analyst and more because big time universities like Duke, UConn, & Alabama pull in well over 6 figures off of athletics and the athletes don't get a penny of that money. Some athletes have gone on record saying that they struggled financially while in college and couldn't afford to eat or pay bills. We also see a lot of athletes leave college early to become professional athletes because they realize how much money they could be making in the professional world. But with this new deal that the NCAA has signed, student athletes are now able to capitalize off of their talents and make money while in college. The Division 1 Board of Directors approved a NIL policy this summer and athletes and companies are running with it. NIL stands for name, image and likeness which means that student athletes can receive compensation through endorsement deals and be paid to represent companies in the public.
This week it was announced that UConn sophomore Paige Bueckers had signed a deal with the sports drink company Gatorade. This is a beyond huge because, not only is she just a college athlete, but she is the first college athlete, male or female to sign with the sports empire. Bueckers is now a Gatorade athlete alongside some of the biggest names in sports like Serena Williams, Zion Williamson and Elena Delle Donne. A lot of people have questioned why she was the first to sign with the sports giant. If you take a look at her resume, she was the Gatorade Player of the Year coming out of high school in 2020. Last season with UConn, she bacame the first freshman to earn the Wooden Award, Naismith Trophy, AP Player of the Year and USBWA Player of the Year. She also led the Huskies in points, assists, steals and three-point field goal percentage. Bueckers has a wapping 938K followers on instagram and over 300K followers on Tiktok. Alongside her Gatorade deal, she signed a deal with StockX 3 weeks ago that will include exclusive merch with her soon to be trademarked name "Paige Buckets" and she will serve as the premiere face of women's sports for the brand. Both her NIL deals with these companies are estimated to bring nearly $1 million. Both Gatorade and StockX have also announced that they will use Bueckers to prioritize women's sports promotion and gather data that proves that women athletes can garner huge amounts of interests and impact sales.
Sophomore quarterback Bryce Young for Alabama has also been getting the bag when it comes to NIL deals. It is estimated that he will also be pulling in upwards of $1 million off of endorsements deals from companies like Logan's Roadhouse, a steak restaurant, and Cash App. The athletic director of Brigham Young University was able to secure a deal with a company called SmartyStreets for the female athletes. So far 294 women's athletes at BYU have signed up to make a maximum of $6000 per year to promote SmartyStreets on their social media and attend company events.
In the era of NIL deals and social media influencers, it's refreshing to see young people making money for their talents and being able to provide for themselves and their families. It will be interesting over the next few years to see how this new NIL agreement will impact both college and professional sports. What athletes and brands will we see working together in the future?