By Sofia Garcia and Erin Han, May 9, 2023
Cal Poly Pomona is an NCAA Division II school where students have the right to earn money with their name, image and likeness, or NIL. NIL deals occur when companies pay student athletes to endorse or sponsor their product or service.
The NCAA once prohibited athletes from being paid until they approved a new NIL, policy. As of July 21, 2021, athletes of all divisions, NCAA Division I, DII and DIII can profit from sponsorships and endorsements.
Reina Sausedo, a guard on the CPP women’s basketball team, said NIL deals are a great way for student athletes to make platforms for themselves and earn money outside of scholarships.
“These deals allow student athletes to earn money off of doing endorsements, social media and other types of brand promotions,” said Sausedo.
She knows of fellow CPP student athletes that sign and benefit from NIL deals.
“I have a mutual friend from home that just recently made an NIL deal with Campus Ink, a clothing brand,” said Sausedo. “I am also aware of a few college female athletes making NIL deals through their TikTok platforms.”
The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association are in discussion to lower the current draft eligibility age from 19 to 18, allowing high school players to enter the NBA draft without attending college for at least one year.
A new agreement would potentially reverse a rule put in place by the NBA in 2005, requiring players to be at least 19 years old before entering the NBA. Prior to 2005, former high school prospects such as Kobe Bryant, Dwight Howard and LeBron James were able to enter the NBA at 18 years old.
Daryl Sledge Jr., a guard on the CPP men’s basketball team, sees the change as a mutual opportunity for the NBA and its players.
“I think that it’s good from a marketing standpoint,” said Sledge Jr. “There’s a lot of kids coming up nowadays with a large social media following … It’s good for not only themselves, but also the league.”
Sledge Jr. said NIL deals are a great way for student-athletes to profit from the business of the NCAA.
“I always thought it was really weird growing up how college kids weren’t able to make any money off their name like jersey sales and stuff like that,” said Sledge Jr. “You play for this big organization that, at the highest levels, generates millions of dollars off of you, so why can’t you tap into that?”
According to athlete marketing platform Opendorse, men’s college basketball earned 17% of all NIL compensation in the U.S. between July 1, 2021 and Aug. 31, 2022, making men’s college basketball the second highest earning sport after football.
The previous NBA draft saw prospects with higher earning potential than any in NBA history. Sponsorships and endorsements gave players revenue along with development of marketing skills.
Paolo Banchero partnered with brands like NBA 2K, Yahoo Sports and JD Sports, totaling $240,000 in NIL valuation. Chet Holmgren partnered with Bose and Topps, totaling $300,000 in valuation.
While financially beneficial, NIL deals entail discrepancies for student athletes among the general student body.
According to CPP men’s basketball head coach Greg Kamansky, these athletes are more than well-compensated for their contributions to their teams.
“They got so much, and that’s why it’s hard for me to listen to someone that says they get nothing. It’s like that is not true — they get way more than you do, way more than the average student, it’s not even close,” said Kamansky.
According to On3, the largest NIL deal for a high school recruit to date is believed to be $9.5 million. High school quarterback and Miami Hurricanes commit Jaden Rashada signed the deal with Miami mega-booster John Ruiz.
For Rashada this may be a life changing opportunity for himself and his family, but in Kamansky’s opinion, the business of the NCAA and its exorbitant funds are ludicrous.
“That’s ridiculous,” said Kamansky. “They (players) want to get money, that’s great, but call it what it is: pro sports. That’s what it is.”
Kamansky is supportive of the players making money, but as a father, he believes the student-athlete experience is priceless time in an athlete’s life.
“If they can make money, let them make money. People are willing to give them money,” said Kamansky. “I guess the narrative that I disagree with is that they don’t get anything. Most of these athletes get their education paid for. I’m a father that’s had to pay for some of my kids’ education, and that’s worth a lot.”
According to NBC New York, the average NIL deal is worth $950 and the median is $50. The deals Kamansky is referring to happen at a higher rate and deliver more to athletes’ pockets in DI schools.
With technology changing in a social media driven world, one can assume NIL deals will become a more frequent topic, but only time will tell how it affects college athletics.
“The system, that’s kind of breaking down right now,” said Kamansky. “It’s going to enhance recruiting and performance of that team. No doubt it’s a difference. It’s going to turn into an arms race like it has in football stadiums and arenas.”
Feature image by Jackson Gray
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