• Altius Sports Partners

NIL: The Unspoken Elements to Prepare For



On March 5, Altius Sports Partners and Women Leaders in College Sports hosted a Live Chat on NIL: The Unspoken Elements to Prepare For. We discussed how to prepare student-athletes for the pressures ahead, how to start thinking about the NIL roll-out on campus, and how external revenue sources may be impacted. Attendees submitted questions during the Live Chat. In this post, we respond to those that went unanswered. Opinions and answers given below are from Altius Sports Partners, and do not reflect the opinions of those who participated on the Live Chat, the institutions they represent, or Women Leaders in College Sports.


Q: What are some helpful ways to educate yourself on NIL, whether you are just starting out or working out the details on your campus and in your industry?


A: It is no secret that there is still much uncertainty when it comes to NIL. However, as state-by-state legislations continue to arise and we await potential federal intervention, there are many ways to begin preparing and educating yourself. Regardless of the division of an institution, beginning a dialogue about NIL on campus is a great place to start. Communicate with athletic department staff about how their specific department will be impacted by NIL. Compliance, student-athlete development, fundraising, and marketing will likely have different goals and concerns as NIL rolls out. Talk with coaches about what they are being asked by student-athletes and recruits. Begin discussions with student-athletes about their NIL interests and questions. Proactively converse with external constituents, as we discuss further in the next question. Gathering information from impacted stakeholders will provide insight for an institution or organization on ways to prepare for NIL that are not dependent on where specific regulations land.


Most importantly, recognize that despite the uncertainty, NIL advancements are inevitable. A helpful step is an attitudinal shift to embrace this change. The collegiate sports landscape is rapidly shifting, the NIL era is upon us, and it will usher in new opportunities for student-athletes, athletic departments, and external stakeholders alike. This is something to be excited about.


Q: As the NIL ecosystem evolves, there are many high stakes, highly influential constituents and stakeholders to consider, and NIL is sometimes not easy to talk about with them. What is some advice for starting a conversation about NIL with any group?


A: NIL rules changes will impact many stakeholders beyond the immediate athletic department. This includes multimedia rights, corporate partners, boosters, university partners, and even parents of student-athletes. Proactively beginning conversations about NIL with these groups – even before NIL rules are solidified – will strengthen the existing relationships and level-set all constituents for the impending NIL changes. Staying in front of each group, keeping them informed, and understanding their unique NIL goals will be critical. The key to starting these proactive conversations is doing your research, asking questions, and identifying the goals and potential challenges each group may face. These strategies will not only help you be a better partner to each constituent, but they will provide insight into how best to equip your organization. In short, be proactive and keep an open dialogue with each stakeholder group as you all prepare for the new NIL landscape.


Q: How will NIL affect non-Power 5 institutions? Do you foresee the same issues and benefits? Do you think this will further separate the Power 5 institutions from Mid-Major institutions?


A: NIL will certainly affect non-Power 5 institutions. They will face similar challenges and reap similar benefits, as the rising tide of NIL has the potential to raise all ships. The key will be leveraging what the institution has to offer. Evaluate the campus and geographic market. What distinguishes it? Importantly, how can NIL amplify or enhance the institution’s unique aspects? For instance, the market may not have a professional sports team. Therefore, the student-athletes are likely already local and regional celebrities. With the introduction of NIL, there will be opportunities for them to capitalize on their platform. Be proactive in recognizing the unique opportunities that each institution – at any level – has to offer and compliantly leverage them with current and prospective student-athletes.


NIL will create opportunities for student-athletes at all levels. While most student-athletes will not be making six-figure national NIL deals, there will be regional, local, and social media opportunities available. The majority of NIL opportunities will include appearances, autographs, sports camps and lessons, and in-kind deals. For example, a basketball player may be invited to make an appearance at the local bank and sign autographs for fans. A volleyball player may host clinics in her hometown over the summer. The soccer team may be offered comped meals at a restaurant in exchange for taking a photo with the manager that he can hang above the host stand. For student-athletes with an entrepreneurial spirit, they may use their NIL to start a business. Those who are savvy on social media may monetize their online platform. These types of opportunities will be available to athletes at any level in any locale. Because of this, there is potential to narrow the gap between Power 5 and non-Power 5 schools in terms of NIL opportunities for student-athletes.

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