One year of NIL: How much have athletes made?

One year of NIL: How much have athletes made?

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FILE - Kansas State guard Nijel Pack (24) shoots next to West Virginia forward Isaiah Cottrell during an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kan., Feb. 14, 2022. The first year of the athlete compensation era in college sports evolved into almost everything the NCAA didn't want when it gave the green light last summer.
What originally was envisioned as a way for college athletes to make some pocket money based on their celebrity has turned into bidding wars for football and men's basketball recruits and transfers. Pack made one of the first big splashes in April. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann, File)

FILE – Nijel Pack (24) from Kansas State shoots next to Isaiah Cottrell (24) during an NCAA college basketball game that took place in Manhattan, Kan., February 14, 2022. The NCAA gave the green light last year for the first year of the athlete-compensation era in college sports. It has since gotten almost everything it wanted.
What started out as a way to make some money for college athletes based on their celebrity has evolved into bidding wars for men’s and football recruits and transfers. Pack was the first to make headlines in April. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann, File)


After the first year of college sports’ name, image and likeness era, football and men’s basketball still claim the throne for the number of deals and average compensation, and social media remains the most popular way to get that NIL money.

NIL platform Opendorse estimated that the total amount spent was $917 million.

On two platforms, an average football deal costs nearly $3,000. And while softball and women’s basketball generally landed in the top five overall, when you subtract football, women’s sports are getting more deals than men’s sports, Opendorse said. According to NIL platform INFLCR female gymnasts make a lot of money: on average, they get about $7,000 per deal.

It is difficult to find a complete accounting of the first year NIL, which runs from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021. This is due to many reasons. The majority of schools don’t make public the number of deals and amounts their athletes have received (though a couple have divulged some information in what could be considered recruiting or marketing strategy).

There is also no standard for reporting deals.

“You have all of these different stakeholders involved in this ecosystem and a lack of consistency, not just in platform where information is being reported, but in requirements relative to what information is necessary,”Andrew Donovan is Altius Sports’ executive vice-president of collegiate partnerships.

So it’s up to major NIL tech platforms — some of which facilitate deals and disclosures, and others disclosures only — to fill in the gaps. It’s sort of.

“I know that what’s being reported is not a full picture,” said Donovan, whose organization works with 30 schools on education and strategic guidance and talks with donors, boosters, corporate partners and others. “… Athletes are regularly acknowledging to us that they’re not disclosing. Schools are regularly communicating the struggles that they’re having getting athletes to disclose … It’s very clear that this is not a full, complete picture of what’s going on in the NIL space.”

What’s next for Year 2, besides new laws or group licensing,? Opendorse believes it’s the potential for NIL spending to exceed $1 billion.

Opendorse estimated that $607.4million could be donated to Power Five schools. This would translate into an average annual salary of $16,074 per student. About three-fourths (or more) of the known or forming colectives, which are third party NIL kingmakers made up from school donors and boosters have already been connected to Power Five schools.

Athletes’ deals with brands — from financial businesses to apps to fashion — will likely rise, too. Opendorse estimates that brand deals will make up 64% of all NILs in Year 2 with an estimated $730.4 Million.

Donovan, a former president of the National Association for Athletics Compliance, also believes there will be more importance placed on helping athletes understand tax implications of NIL deals: “There’s several schools across the country that are doing a good job there, but that needs to be built out as we see these large financial figures.”


It’s a broad range. INFLCR’s overall average NIL transaction value is $1,815 through June 30. Athliance, another disclosure platform, has an average value of $1,524.58. Though the true picture may lie in INFLCR’s median NIL transaction value of $53.

The Opendorse platform said average annual compensation for an athlete in NCAA Divisions I-III combined is $3,438 ( through May 31). By division, DI athletes saw an average of $3,711, $204 in DII and $309 in DIII.

Football NIL deals tend to be hefty, with an average of $3,390.95 on Athliance and $3,396 on INFLCR. Opendorse broke down average compensation per football position, ranging from $403 for a specialist, $758 for the defensive line and $2,128 for quarterback.

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Women’s sports overall received $1,084 on average for an NIL deal, per INFLCR, with women’s gymnastics soaring to a $7,054 average.

Some of the average transaction figures for nonrevenue sports through May 31 on INFLCR were surprising: $8,967 for swimming and diving, $6,087 for rifle and $4,813 for men’s golf — all higher than football and in the platform’s top five. Athliance cited an average of $1,850 for hockey, $1,400 for waterskiing and $1,026.67 for indoor track and field.


As of June 20, men’s sports received 62.7% of total compensation in the NCAA and NAIA combined, compared with 37.3% for women’s sports, Opendorse said. Remove football and women flip it to 52.8% vs. 47.2% for men. The difference in Division III was stark through May 31: 82.9% men vs. 17.1% women.

Football (49.9%) and men’s basketball (17%) dominated total NIL compensation by sport in Opendorse’s platform through June 20, with women’s basketball (15.7%), women’s volleyball (2.3%) and softball (2.1%) rounding out the top five. Football also took the top spot in INFLCR’s number of NIL transactions through May 31 with 23.7%, followed by men’s basketball (22.3%), softball (8.2%), baseball (6%) and women’s basketball (4.7%).

When it comes to total NIL activities, Opendorse says football (29.3%) is the leader, then baseball (8%), men’s basketball (7.6%), women’s track and field (5.6%) and women’s volleyball (5.5%).

Donor money also favors men’s sports — a whopping 93% of it, Opendorse said. The average monthly compensation from donors at the DI level is $1,012.

Meanwhile, 91% of all women’s NIL activities are brand-related on Opendorse’s platform, but 62% of all brand compensation went to men’s sports.


Social media remains supreme for NIL activity/transactions — 67.6% from Opendorse and 61% from INFLCR, both as of June 30. The average value of a social media NIL transaction is $905 and the median is $50, INFLCR said.

Multi-activity brand endorsement — endorsing something more than once — has a major share in Opendorse’s platform at 24.4% of NIL compensation. When it comes to brand activity, 36.73% is licensing rights for an average of $9,877 per deal and 34.19% is posting content with an average of $156 per post.


Ohio State says its athletes have gotten more than 1,000 NIL deals since July 1, 2021 — up from about 600 worth a total of $2.98 million at the six-month mark.

Kansas athletes inked 219 deals from July 1, 2021, to May 5 — a period that includes the Jayhawks winning the men’s NCAA basketball tournament — for a total value of $380,915.01, according to public records obtained by the Topeka Capital-Journal. The majority of deals were for less than $1,000.

At least one Kansas athlete from all 18 sports had at least one deal, according to a recent release from the school.

And at Norfolk State, running back Rayquan Smith let everyone know he has 66 NIL deals, calling himself the “ King of NIL.”


More AP college sports: and

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