College athletes see dollar signs.

NCAA student athletes monetize their star power.

College athletes see dollar signs.


Future. The NCAA has reversed a long-standing rule that formerly prevented student-athletes from profiting off of their names, images, and likenesses (NIL). Now, as NCAA student athletes monetize their star power, they will become a part of the creator economy — they’ll be branded athletes.

Done deals
Some of NCAA’s biggest names have already rushed towards their first paydays:

  • Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry (Alabama Football) is trying out his hand at NFTs.
  • Myles Brennan (LSU Football) inked a deal with Smoothie King.
  • Ty Knox (Arkansas Football) will share the spotlight with his dog in a deal with PetSmart.
  • Graham Mertz (Wisconsin Football) filed to trademark his own logo for custom apparel.

The new rules also present a new opportunity for female student athletes to capitalize on their personal brands.

New rules
Schools still cannot pay athletes directly. And the NCAA leaves it up to each school to decide if it wants to assist athletes in inking NIL deals. Some schools won’t let athletes endorse vice products (like alcohol) or sign conflicting deals (e.g. Nike-sponsored schools won’t allow their athletes to wear Under Armour during games).

The new face of [insert brand name here]
In general, the number of rules is small compared to the number of new opportunities for college athletes to cash in and grow their brands. Players are being flooded with marketing pitches, and brands like Unilever and GoPuff are showing off their plans to bring NCAA athletes into their ecosystems.

So expect to see emerging talent and Heisman trophy winners popping up in places you would never have imagined before.