Opinion: Two Ways Non-Student-Athletes Can Benefit from New NIL Policy

July 09, 2021

As of July 1st, every student-athlete in America is now permitted to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL) while competing for their university. An eye-catching example: Barstool Sports, a popular digital media company focused on sports & pop culture, signed their first "Barstool Athlete" on July 1st. Since then, according to their Instagram post on July 8th (@barstoolsports), they have received over 140,000 applications and counting from college athletes across the country (I am not uncertain that David Portnoy, the owner, probably has accepted all of them).

While the possibilities are endless for both Barstool Sports' marketing presence and the Barstool Athletes' social media following, can non-student-athletes in college who are interested in marketing, branding, or management benefit from this whole new era? 


1. Recruiting for Brands 

As an incoming student at the University of Washington in the NCAA Division I & Pac-12 Conference, I immediately thought of the possibility of recruiting student-athletes through outreach on campus. Brands & businesses that are looking to partner with college student-athletes could benefit from hiring "ambassadors".

Ambassadors could be students at particular colleges and universities who can promote the brand/business to student-athletes at the same school. For example, a preferred qualification that brands/businesses could look for in an ambassador could be having personal connections with student-athletes at their respective schools, whether that is through a club involvement or being a student manager on the team.

If it is a non-paid position, both the business and the ambassador could benefit, let alone it being a paid position. The business gets exposure and can partner with more student-athletes at a particular school, and the students (ambassadors) could experience working as advertisers and develop their negotiation and communication skills, while potentially going on to be hired as an actual intern or obtain an entry-level position.


2. Voluntary Player Management / Intern for Sports Agency

Many NIL-based platforms or agencies have begun to shift to a new era: representing college athletes to help them find endorsement deals. An example is Dreamfield, co-founded by University of Miami quarterback D'Eriq King & defensive back Bubba Bolden, which allows college athletes to set a price for their time, such as $2,000/hr for a marketing campaign event, and puts them all in a directory on their website where businesses can discover and book their time.

The idea is: while professional athletes hire professional agencies for contract negotiations and marketing representation, college athletes can, well, consider giving the opportunity to college students who are interested in marketing and management, too. Non-student-athletes can act as personal agents for their friends or clients who are student-athletes and reach out to businesses to promote them with the goal of finding marketing deals, just like professional marketing agencies do. Whatever the relationship might be, I believe the opportunity is open for college students who are interested in sports to gain experience in sports management through partnering for free with student-athletes at their schools. On the other hand, professional marketing and sports agencies could look for more interns, which in turn increases the value of this NIL policy.


In short, everyone in college who is interested in sports can benefit from this historic change, but student-athletes can obviously make the most. If you are a college student and want to gain marketing, branding, and management experience, however, it doesn't really matter.

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