Since July 2021, when the NIL (name, image and likeness) deal became official, it has changed the landscape of college sports, especially from a recruiting and eligibility standpoint, as student-athletes can earn revenue from their own name, image and likeness, without NCAA penalty.
For years universities made billions off the backs of young student-athletes who faced losing their scholarship and eligibility if they even accepted as much as a $10 sandwich from the wrong individual.
With something of this magnitude coming into play and shifting the economic landscape of “amateur” sports, it was only a matter of time before the shoe giants capitalized on the new ballgame.
Adidas Raises NIL Stakes, Spreads The Wealth
The first to do so is Adidas, which announced a deal with its 109 Division I-affiliated schools.
NCAA program lead, Jim Murphy had this to say about the landmark announcement:
“The Adidas NIL network embodies our belief that sport has the power to change lives by upskilling athletes and giving them the ability to begin to experience an entrepreneurial path that will carry them beyond their college years. This is not just a first-of-it’s-kind program for the brand and industry, it goes much wider by unlocking opportunities in business and life that will enable them as student-athletes to maximize the NIL, opening doors to future possibilities.”
The NIL network will be available to over 50,000 student-athletes of the 109 Adidas sponsored institutions. A whopping 23 different varsity sports will also be eligible to participate. This is beyond groundbreaking as it now moves NIL deals into the business and partnership realm with one of the global shoe giants.
BREAKING: Adidas is opening its NIL network to every college athlete at an Adidas-partnered NCAA DI university.
The wide-sweeping NIL network is the first among major sports brands.
More than 50,000 athletes across 23 sports and 109 schools can become paid Adidas ambassadors. pic.twitter.com/T48jIeWteV
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) March 23, 2022
This is a further expansion of the ever-evolving NIL. Up until now, the majority of NIL deals have been secured by marquee athletes with large social media followings or a pro future.
Student-athletes with a strong social media presence (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Tik Tok) made up 88.5 percent of the first deals given in July.
“Licensing NIL rights (3.9%), content creators (2.7 %), personal appearances (2.0%), sports camps (1.7%), selling products (0.7%) and signing autographs (0.4%)” rounded out the list of NIL recipients.
HBCUs Will Be Included: No Separatism
For ages, it seems Division I HBCUs have always be left out of major deals afforded other universities. Not this time, as the shoe giant made it clear that HBCU athletes will get a piece of the pie as early as the fall of 2022. What’s unique is it’ll be the same time Power Five schools will be given the opportunity.
An Adidas spokesman was very clear when explaining the program and it’s mission.
“We also want to open doors to a more equitable future outside of just unlocking monetary rewards … to help them grow as student-athletes and set them up for a future beyond college sports. The possibilities of how this grows and how we as a brand bring elevated opportunities to them are endless.”
That’s got to be music to someone like Deion Sanders’ ears. Since his arrival at Jackson State Coach Prime has stressed the need for HBCUs to receive the same opportunities as the Power Five programs. This is another step in the right direction.
Brands Are On Pace To Spend $600 Million On NIL Deals In First Year
In a sign of things to come for the future, NIL deals are on pace to reach $600 million in revenue by July. That is the one-year anniversary of the NCAA’s landmark decision. While Adidas hasn’t announced how much an athlete can make with their deal, the fact that the cultural shoe giant is this entrenched is monumental within itself.
“Our groundbreaking NIL program advances our commitments toward building inclusivity in sport and inspires athletes to realize a more equitable world. I can’t wait to see it come to life,” said Rupert Campbell, head of the North American division.
The NIL has changed how we view college sports and how athletes empower themselves financially forever.