With name, image, and likeness laws and guidelines now live across the country, it's evident that many student-athletes, brands, and the public at large still have lots of questions about how the marketplace will work, and how collegiate athletes can capitalize on NIL.
With this changed landscape of college sports, there are now finally opportunities for collegiate athletes to make money off of NIL, and for brands to have those athletes promote their products or services.
The flip side of this? With so much confusion over what can or cannot be done, and so many people in the space that will be looking to take advantage, there's also potential for abuse and actions that could negatively affect student-athletes.
Here at AthletesForProfit.com, we have seen both college and high school athletes, including those in states that do not currently have NIL laws ready to go live, open their Twitter DMs to solicit inquiries from companies.
While we are all for amateur athletes making money as soon as possible off of NIL – after all, we started a blog helping athletes do just that – this can be a dangerous proposition.
Keep these points in mind: First, any NIL deals must comply with state laws and/or guidelines set forth by respective collegiate institutions. Many states do not even have NIL laws set to go into effect. Some of those that do have signed laws that will become live at later dates, meaning sometime after July 1 of 2021. Doing a deal before having a clear picture of state or school guidance could compromise eligibility for student-athletes, which is a nightmare scenario.
Secondly, the student-athlete's collegiate compliance department must be looped into NIL deals to ensure that eligibility to play remains intact; this is also known as the disclosure process.
Additionally, student-athletes need to be very careful with the companies they contract with for NIL deals. Are the companies legit? What are the expectations of the deal? Will the companies pay on time – or at all?
The NIL era is undoubtedly a positive for both student-athletes and brands, but all parties need to make sure it's done in a safe, effective way.
With this era here, brands and athletes alike still have lots of questions. How will this work? How do I get in contact and engage with the other side? What's the compensation? If it's a social media post, how long does it stay up, and what do I hashtag? If it's an in-person appearance, is travel included?
With so many questions created and boxes to check, there's a ready-made solution for both brands and collegiate athletes.
“The answer is this: sign up for Icon Source,” said Drew Butler, himself a former college and professional football player who is now the VP of Collegiate with the company. “It is free. We will protect you. We are going to keep the universities up to date so everybody is doing it the right way.”
Founded in 2018 by former professional athlete, agent, and Red Bull athlete program director Chase Garrett, Icon Source is a platform that avoids conflicts of legislation and conflicts of interest because it's a third-party solution that does not contract with colleges.
Here is more for both brands and athletes on how to use Icon Source to your advantage:
Icon Source for businesses looking to take advantage of collegiate NIL
It's free for brands and businesses – from giant, Fortune 100 companies to hyper-local restaurants in a college town – to sign up for Icon Source and create a brand profile. Once allowed, those companies can then search for collegiate athletes on the platform.
“Using our AI technology, they can narrow it down to where he’s from, where is he currently playing, who are his social media followers?” said Butler. “Does he have time in his schedule to hang out in our restaurant and sign autographs for an hour? When they’re ready to send that opportunity, they then have a direct line with that athlete. We are a conduit that provides them the opportunity to have an authentic engagement to come to an agreement.”
Once a business finds a desired athlete in the marketplace, a series of questions eventually populates a contract to be presented to the athlete – contracts that have been green-lit by some of the country's biggest agencies such as CAA, IMG, and Wasserman.
“All the questions that you finalize to get a deal done, that’s all the athlete and the brand have to worry about because the legal language and terms of service are good, Butler explained.
Icon Source for collegiate athletes looking to take advantage of NIL
Athletes can create a profile at any time on Icon Source, and that profile will go live once their respective states and/are schools have guidelines that are live allowing them to be compensated for name, image, and likeness.
“We process the payment on behalf of the student-athlete, and then based on the payment schedule they agreed upon, we release the funds. We then provide all that information to the compliance department so they know what’s happening,” Butler explained.
Icon Source's secure and transparent platform can help collegiate athletes facilitate endorsement deals and capitalize on NIL without worrying about elements like bad contracts, payment, or eligibility.
“We take all those headache questions and throw them out. We’re giving the peace of mind and confidence to student-athletes and the brands to say, if you come to Icon Source, it will be done the right way and we will keep the university up to date,” Butler said.