NCAA athlete pay: What’s in a name, image and likeness?

In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a unanimous and groundbreaking opinion. The court ruled that the NCAA, the governing body for college sports, was violating antitrust laws by putting limits on the education-related benefits its athletes could receive. Nine days later, the NCAA adopted a policy allowing athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness, or NIL. That marked a major milestone in a process that has spurred debate in political circles, on college campuses and among fans of teams.

Hear more: Market Dives, a new podcast from Missouri Business Alert and KBIA, tackles the topic of compensation for college athletes

The ruling set the field for a massive overhaul of the business of college athletics. Since the decision, the number of states in the country that have adopted legislation allowing for college athletes to profit from endorsements has risen to 27. Athletes have already cashed in on deals, with some like University of Alabama football star Bryce Young reportedly earning at least six figures from deals. Another emerging trend is the development of firms aimed at helping athletes profit off of their image and create their own brand.

One such firm is Dreamfield, which is located in Florida. Cory Staniscia is the external affairs director for the firm and also helped draft the NIL law that Florida passed. Missouri Business Alert talked to Staniscia about the process behind the creation of the legislation and what the new laws could mean for athletes.

The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Missouri Business Alert: The NIL bill that Florida passed received bipartisan support. What made the bill stand out as something that politicians on both sides of the aisle could get behind?

Cory Staniscia: If you’re a conservative, this really is a true free market economy kind of issue. And even if you’re more on the progressive, liberal side of things, this really is just such an equality and equity standpoint across the board for a group of people, almost half a million people in the country have been discriminated against economically for decades.

MBA: So far, what does the money for these deals look like?

CS: My friend Ross Dellinger over at Sports Illustrated did a really good job about a month ago compiling some of this data through some of these compliance software companies… I think they said the highest paid athlete, an unnamed athlete, was like $210,000 of deals in the first month. That’s a big number. I mean, I’m in my early 30’s, I’d love to make $210,000 dollars. That’s a big number for anyone to make. But then we saw deals as small as you know $45 dollars.

MBA: And what is the breakdown for these deals in terms of the categories?

CS: Eighty-eight percent of deals were dealing with social media influencing. So that clearly is the bulk of the actual deal. Out of those deals, I think it was 46 or 48% or almost half of the dollars were spent on social media influencing, under half. So that means, really the large dollars were coming in, we are talking about half of the actual cash value was coming in on the other 12% of deals that were not social media influencing.

MBA: Is it fair to say that even without a million dollar deal, this is good for athletes because no one will be made worse off from this rule change?

CS: Yeah because look, at the end of the day, if you’re a college athlete today but you were also maybe comparing yourself to a college athlete even a year ago who graduated, and they received $0 dollars and you choose not to do any deals or maybe you’re not marketable and you don’t do any deals. Then, so be it. Then that’s a status quo. You’re no worse off than you were just a few months ago before July 1, 2021. It’s up to you to make that decision.

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