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  • Writer's pictureThe Outloud Group


Updated: Feb 2

It’s no secret, the hottest ticket in the sports world is the opportunity for brands to finally partner with college athletes and legally compensate them for it. With the freedom for athletes to now earn endorsement income, an expressive crowd of new influencers with highly engaged audiences are poised to dunk on the marketing world. Exciting early momentum is forcing every brand to contemplate how their product and message can be delivered through this influx of fresh and creative new voices.

Collegiate influencers like Texas softball star Lauren Burke are already speaking out about what their NIL priorities are.

“As a former PAC12 student-athlete, I’m so excited for new opportunities for these current and future student-athletes,” says Brittany Mann, the Outloud Group’s Name Image Likeness lead. “With the right partners and approach, there is now unlimited opportunity for them to partner with great brands and capitalize on their influence by showcasing who they really are on and off the field.”

Is your brand ready to partner with influential college athletes?

What are the rules and best practices for everyone engaging in these business relationships? What should brands and student athletes be cautious of?

Let the games begin!

Rules For Student Athletes Benefiting From Their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL)

As of July 1, 2021 the NCAA lifted restrictions on collegiate athletes capitalizing on their own name, image, and likeness. Previously, student athletes couldn’t be compensated outside of their tuition and miscellaneous goods that their school provided them for athletics. Not even a free tattoo for just being who they are. After years of lawsuits and petitioning, student athletes can now get paid by brands who are interested in their representation.

But the truth is, it’s not that cut and dry. Every state and school will have their own rules and regulations related to the NCAA’s. As it stands, athletes can make unlimited amounts of revenue utilizing their personality and influence. However, they cannot make money for playing a sport, take payment from a school to play sports for them, use their school’s branding to make money, nor endorse brands that directly compete with those that the school partners with. Aside from those general principles, everything else is fair game!

The Best Opportunities For Brands And College Athletes To Partner

As an influencer marketing agency, we aren't bashful about insisting the greatest NIL opportunities for brands and athletes are in social media activations. Seriously, what better way for a brand to reach new relevant audiences than through the direct voice of beloved college athletes on highly engaging social platforms?

Here are a few early news items we are excited about…

Is There Anything to Watch Out For?

As with most any new marketing opportunity, there are risks to be aware of for all participants. Brands must tread lightly in what is likely to become an increasingly regulated industry. New NIL business opportunities are not unlike other brand-influencer partnerships, in that there are sure to be successes and failures, along with those that play the game right, and others that should get tossed.

“I think it’s important for brands to consider what schools, sports, and athletes will be relevant to their own audience AND what will be an authentic brand partnership for the audiences they are trying to reach.” Mann says. “For the student-athletes, it’s important that they partner with brands/agencies that understand the daily grind of being student-athletes and will advocate for them to find those authentic partnerships. Not only will this help the brand continue to grow but also student-athlete’s personal brand while they represent their team and university.”

The best playbook for brands to engage with college athletes is to partner with professionals and agencies that have valuable expertise in influencer brand deals (wink wink), especially if you are new to the influencer marketing industry. Similarly for student athletes; there is FINALLY so much to gain from these new revenue opportunities, but you don’t want to take an L for not having a good team with an offensive and defensive strategy in place!

So, Is Your Brand Ready To Begin Partnering With College Athletes?

New NCAA NIL rules introduce hundreds of thousands of college athletes to amazing new opportunities to earn revenue by partnering with great brands. We view NCAA student-athletes as the next form of influencer marketing and have started working with a number of our brand partners to bring this to life.

If you’re interested in supplementing your marketing program with college athletics influencers, add the Outloud Group to your lineup. Okay, no more sports puns. We promise.


For more insights on the influencer marketing industry, find us on Youtube, Twitter , Instagram and LinkedIn!

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