Name, Image, and Likeness opportunities are about to hit college sports. I don’t know how much the competitive landscape will change as almost every school seems to be embracing this new era of student-athletes as brands.
Not a week goes by without another school announcing its new Name, Image, and Likeness program.
I suspect that the rich will get richer as the more dominant schools will have the most to offer recruits. The more powerful schools may also be able to invest the most in their new NIL support organizations.
And what the schools have to offer is going to be a major driver of the recruiting process.
Erin Dunston, Ohio State football’s director of on-campus recruiting, expects it to be a frequent topic of conversation between Ohio State’s staff and recruits going forward. She was specifically asked to offer a percentage of how much of the conversations are about NIL.
“I would say honestly, with NIL, if we’re going pie chart, I’m gonna say the presentation’s about 30 percent but the natural conversations that happen, I think it’s gonna take over a lot of the chunk of what is talked about, because that’s what these kids are really interested in,” Dunston said last week. “They’re interested in their playing time, they’re interested in building a relationship with the head coach but there is that money aspect. So to me, if you’re asking personally, presentation and conversation-wise, it’s gonna be about 50 percent.”
The percentages sound about right. As college sports has become a business that recruits its barely compensated players by talking about getting them to the “league,” the message has long been about money. It's just that the money was going to be paid by someone else and in the future.
Now the money will be paid by someone else but in the present. And the schools will help the student-athletes get that money. Though for the most part, I suspect that this will mostly be guidance on social media. Do schools have the bandwidth to really help build everyone’s brand? Or will they just offer a few seminars on how to grow a social media audience?
And, the best part? If you thought the transfer portal was too active in the past, now athletes may move not just because they weren’t starting but also because they are not being featured in the school’s marketing and PR.
How this makes sense as part of a University mission is beyond everyone. It should be a wild year or two.