Name, Image and Likeness: Tracking early deals, potential stars, the weird, interesting, quirky, and more (2024)

Name, Image and Likeness: Tracking early deals, potential stars, the weird, interesting, quirky, and more (1)

By The Athletic CFB and CBB Staff

Jul 6, 2021

Collegiate athletes are now able to monetize their names, images and likeness without compromising their eligibility as of a July 1 interim NIL policy enacted by the NCAA. The interim policy serves as a stopgap until federal legislation is passed.

College athletes have been preparing for July 1 for months now, and the deals, endorsem*nts, business endeavors and more are free-flowing. Here’s a list of some of the biggest, wildest, quirkiest, most interesting deals we’re seeing.


Kayvon Thibodeaux makes his mark with Phil Knight

I am honored to announce my first collaboration with two true pioneers: Phil Knight and Tinker Hatfield. (

— kayvon thibodeaux (@kayvonT8) July 6, 2021

Reggie Bush and the return of the Heisman?

On the first day of NIL, Reggie Bush released a statement asking for the return of his Heisman Trophy. The Heisman Trust will restore it … if the NCAA reinstates Bush’s records.

My statement…

— Reggie Bush (@ReggieBush) July 1, 2021

EA Sports preps for big announcement

Said EA Sports: “Look, we’re not allowed to tell you much about this one yet, sorry. But we can say this Spotlight will highlight an extremely cool new addition to an extremely popular and long-running EA SPORTS franchise. We may have said too much already. Just keep your calendar free, OK?”

(Your calendar being July 20.)

NIL trailblazer is making moves

Jordan Bohannon is making a paid appearance Thursday at a fireworks store in Iowa. Fans can meet Bohannon, get an autograph, and enter a raffle to win memorabilia. Bohannon is also offering paid chat sessions with VIDSIG.

How sweet it is

Auburn quarterback Bo Nix has signed a deal with Milo’s Sweet Tea. Milo’s Sweet Tea is based in Bessemer, Ala., southwest of Birmingham.

The first wireless provider deal

Fresno State’s basketball twin powerhouse, Hanna and Haley Cavinder, will be sponsored by Boost Mobile. The Cavinders have more than 5 million followers combined across all of their social media platforms.

A belly rub for man’s best friend

Arkansas wide receiver Trey Knox is partnering with PetSmart. His pup Blue will be a happy, good boy.

Arby’s seeking RBs

We have a thing for RBs & we’ve been wanting to pay college RBs forever. If that’s you, email us:

— Arby's (@Arbys) July 2, 2021

It isn’t only about crisp dollar bills

Florida State QB McKenzie Milton is the first athlete to have an NFT (non-fungible token). Miami QB D’Eriq King plans to have an NFT by the end of July. Alabama’s GaQuincy McKinstry, a Class of 2021 signee who is enrolled on campus, will have one, too.

Kicking in on the action

What kind of endorsem*nt opportunities are out there for kickers? Michigan State’s Matthew Coghlin is giving us a look into his new world with this hilarious Tweet promoting a podcast about the Spartans.

This is a paid tweet to tell you to listen to the Locked On Spartans podcast. I've never listened to it, but I’m sure it’s not terrible.

— Matthew Coghlin (@MatthewCoghlin) July 1, 2021

Giving back

Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler announced he will donate part of his NIL earnings to underserved communities and people.

— Spencer Rattler (@SpencerRattler) July 1, 2021

Midnight madness

Miami quarterback D’Eriq King launched three initiatives as the clock struck midnight to cash in on his fame. He opened his own online merchandise shop that sells branded clothing and autographed memorabilia. He partnered with Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton to co-found Dreamfield, a company that will help college athletes set up speaking appearances and autograph signings. And along with Canes safety Bubba Bolden, King signed a $20,000 deal to promote two-Tampa based companies on social media — College Hunks Haul Junk & Moving and Murphy Auto group. The 10-month contract included a $10,000 signing bonus.


Grab your headsets…

Happy NIL Day. So far, a few headliners of #LSU players announcing deals.

-Derek Stingley Jr. with Walk-On's
-Myles Brennan with Smoothie King and Smalls Sliders
-Kayshon Boutte and Austin Deculus, among others, with Yoke Gaming

— Brody Miller (@BrodyAMiller) July 1, 2021

From LSU to Iowa, players are signing with Yoke Gaming, which allows people to play video games alongside athletes.

Rewards program

Nebraska-based restaurant chain Runza announced Wednesday a first-of-its kind athlete endorsem*nt program. It offered deals to the first 100 athletes in any sport attending any university in Nebraska to promote the Runza Rewards app to their followers on social media. Runza partnered with Opendorse, the sports technology company based in Lincoln, Neb., that has been at the forefront of facilitating the NIL era.

How much is that signature worth?

Some early prices for meet and greets and autograph signings with Dreamfield:

Name, Image and Likeness: Tracking early deals, potential stars, the weird, interesting, quirky, and more (2)

T-shirt partnerships

BreakingT announced a program where athletes can sign up and it’s passive income for them. Athletes are essentially giving the company permission to make a t-shirt, should they do something big.

An entrepreneurial player enlists teammates

Tennessee walk-on receiver Grant Frerking is working all sides of the NIL fence. He already owns a large, multi-million dollar landscaping company, as chronicled byThe Athletic. But he started another company that helps broker NIL deals and has paid at least two teammates to endorse his company. Tennessee receiver Velus Jones and quarterback Brian Maurer both published sponsored social media posts advertising Metro Straw, Frerking’s company, on Thursday.

For all of your ground cover needs , contact the best in the business ! @MetroStraw @GrantFrerking @gtfenterprises

— Brian Maurer (@maurerera_2) July 1, 2021

The athlete predicted to monetize them all

LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne, who has more than 1 million followers on Instagram, tops or is near the top of several lists of college athletes predicted to earn the most off of their NIL. Louisiana state’s NIL bill is awaiting the governor’s signature; once the bill has been signed, it will be effective immediately, but each school in the university system must adopt an implementation policy.

Want to read more on various NIL deals and endorsem*nts?

  • The Athletic’s NIL FAQ
  • Bruce Feldman talks to sources about how unenforceable some the NIL rules will be
    Andy Staples on what NIL means for the booster-recruit relationship and more
  • Manny Navarro on D’Eriq King’s three deals
  • Austin Meek on what Michigan’s policy means

(Top photo: Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

Name, Image and Likeness: Tracking early deals, potential stars, the weird, interesting, quirky, and more (2024)


How have NIL deals changed college sports? ›

To aid players, various legislative bodies and the NCAA created NIL legislation. As a result of this legislation, a school's student athletes can earn money when they participate in endorsem*nt deals, create a strong social media presence to monetize their personal brand, and establish personal business ventures.

What is NIL and how does it work? ›

NIL stands for “name, image and likeness” and has become the universal shorthand for college athletes' ability to become paid endorsers and monetize their success outside of their school-funded scholarships and benefits.

What is the history of the NIL? ›

History of NIL Restrictions by the NCAA

For many decades, the NCAA opposed extending NIL rights to college athletes, and its rules specifically barred them from making money off of their names, images, or likenesses.

What is name, image and likeness data? ›

A NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) deal refers to an agreement allowing college athletes to monetize their personal brand by endorsing products or services using their name, image, or likeness.

Why are people against NIL deals? ›

A primary reason against the induction of NIL in NCAA sports is the fact that many student athletes already enjoy the benefit of free college tuition. Scholarships awarded to these athletes often cover, not just tuition, but also room and board, textbooks and other fees.

What is happening with NIL? ›

Skinner: SB 206, which was enacted in 2019 and made California the first state in the nation to give student athletes the right to compensation from their name, image and likeness, essentially ending the NCAA's prohibition on student athletes' ability to earn money from their athletic prowess; and SB 26, which was ...

Do you have to pay taxes on NIL income? ›

Generally, any money, goods, property, or services received from NIL activities are all considered forms of taxable income. Student-athletes should be mindful that NIL agreement income (including non-cash benefits or compensation) is reportable and is considered taxable income.

How much NIL money is being paid? ›

How much money can college athletes make with a NIL deal? Broadly speaking, the average income from NIL deals for student-athletes ranges from $1,000 to $10,000. However, we've seen cases where some athletes have earned much more than that.

How much has Caitlin Clark made in NIL? ›

During her time at Iowa, Clark made an estimated $3 million in NIL money as he had endorsem*nt deals with the likes of Gatorade and State Farm.

Is there a federal NIL law? ›

Although most Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) laws exist at the state level, Congress is weighing several competing bills that seek to create uniform regulations across the country.

How many states have passed NIL laws? ›

As of July 2022, 29 states have passed legislation addressing how student-athletes can profit off their name, image, and likeness (NIL), with an additional 10 states waiting on proposed NIL legislation to pass.

Who passed the NIL bill? ›

On January 10, 2024, the NCAA passed the first set of NIL legislation through the creation of Bylaw 22. Baker characterized the new rules as providing “clarity” for schools and “protection” for athletes, while acknowledging more work remained.

Can you sue for name image likeness? ›


Who owns your name, image, and likeness? ›

The right of publicity is your legal right to control how your identity is used for commercial purposes such as advertising, including your image, likeness, and name. “It's fundamental that the right of publicity is something that all of us have,” says trademark and copyright law attorney Robert Cumbow.

What is the name image likeness rule? ›

Key Takeaways

NIL refers to the rights of college and high school athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness through product endorsem*nts and other activities. The three elements of NIL—name, image, and likeness—are protected by the legal concept of "right of publicity."

Is the NIL ruining college sports? ›

Teams are built and destroyed by the transfer portal/NIL system. Over 1,800 players entered the transfer portal for men's basketball last year. There are 351 Division I basketball teams. On the average transfers affect almost half of a team's roster without accounting for graduation or other attrition.

How have the NIL and Portal impacted college sports? ›

One of the most significant impacts of NIL in the transfer portal is the ability for athletes to enhance their value and attract interest from prospective schools.

What are the pros of NIL deals in college sports? ›

Perhaps the most prominent benefit of NIL deals is the newfound financial empowerment they afford to college athletes. Student-athletes have always been restricted from profiting while their universities and athletic programs reaped the rewards of their labor and talent.

How does NIL affect universities? ›

For universities, the NIL rule change presents a new opportunity to form partnerships and secure sponsorships with traditional brands. These sponsorships can provide universities with significant sources of funding to improve facilities, provide scholarships, and support other athletic programs.


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