Building and Harvesting Brand Equity: Past Greats and NIL
Past players seem to be welcoming the relaxation of Name, Image, and Likeness rules. The impact of allowing players to make money from NIL rights is going to vary across schools. The schools that provide a pre-existing fanbase are going to provide the most lucrative environment. Kentucky basketball is going to be a target-rich environment for student-athletes looking to exploit NIL opportunities. However, this article reveals that past athletes understand the missed opportunities. For Kentucky fans who think in triplicate, the topic of name, image and likeness might evoke thoughts of Issel, Givens and Walker. How might Dan Issel (UK’s career scoring leader), Jack Givens (hero of the 1978 national championship game) and Kenny Walker (the nickname “Sky” fit his lofty status) have profited as Kentucky players off their names, images and likenesses? “I don’t know how much I would have made, but it would have been a whole lot more than I had,” Givens said with a chuckle. “That’s for sure.” All three welcomed the growing expectation that the NCAA will soon recommend its member schools approve a change allowing college players to make money as commercial spokespersons, autograph signers and other ways that convert athletics fame into cash. “Oh, you know I’m all for it,” Walker said. “There’s no question about that. It just happened about 35 or 40 years too late.” The other side of the issue that the article indirectly alludes to is how school’s pasts create lucrative futures (for other athletes). I don’t know how Kentucky fans rate their basketball legends, but I assume that these three are in the top 10. Issel played three years at Kentucky (probably the era of no freshman eligibility), Jack Givens played four years, and Kenny Walker played 4. They each have long lists of awards and accomplishments. What about the one-and-done players of the recent past? The fundamental point is that players like Issel, Givens, and Walker helped build the Kentucky brand that will help make some future players rich. Of course, we could also add Jamal Mashburn, Antione Walker, Rex Chapman, John Calipari, Adolph Rupp, and many others. NIL will be chaotic, and it may (further) shift the balance of power to schools that provide the best marketing opportunities. On the other hand, it may also be an era where new athletes get to harvest the brand equity built by former players over the past century.