By Abby Hope

A Bright Future for College Athletes

If you are a student-athlete like me, you may have once or twice had the assignment to write an essay on why or why not college athletes should be paid. After much speculation, a conclusion has been reached. College athletes should be paid, somehow, someway.

It has long since been debated what rights the NCAA has over athletes. One in particular: athlete’s names. NIL restrictions refer to the name, image, and likeness of college athletes. The recent lifting of these restrictions will undoubtedly change the landscape of college sports forever. There will be grey area, and it will most likely be messy, but for athletes, it opens up a new realm of possibilities. Being that the NCAA is a money-hungry beast, it seems only fair that the NCAA Division I Council finally recommended that restrictions be eased.

What will this look like? Female basketball players with millions of followers on Tik Tok, like Fresno State’s Cavinder Twins, can now use their social platforms to get paid. University of Miami QB D’Eriq King can attend the same events at The Wharf as he has been, signing autographs, and shaking hands, only this time cashing out on it.

University of Tampa lacrosse players, both pictured in the feature article, Daniel Fitzpatrick (#51) and Luke McAnaney (#45) are some of the first at Tampa to jump into endorsements deals. Fitz is an affiliate marketer for GAT Sport, a supplement brand, and when any of his social media followers use his promo code, “DFITZ51” they will receive a 10% discount.

McAnaney is currently partnering with a clothing brand, EverxLand to promote their merchandise along with a CBD company Cannadips. He holds the opinion that “by lifting the NIL restrictions athletes will have more opportunities to find success in their college experiences. It is obvious that Division I Football & Basketball Power 5 schools will see the greatest benefit which is well deserved but it also allows athletes who may only be known locally to make a few extra dollars and finance themselves.”

To McAnaney’s point, elite athletes at high-profile schools will see greater benefits than the majority of others, but that is no different than the pay gaps in the pros. Isn’t this just another way of preparing athletes for the future? The way I see it everyone wins; the athletes benefit from extra income, the purchaser benefits from the discount, and the business benefits from the new traffic brought in.

Some feared a fractured locker room, but King already announced that he intends on splitting NIL profits to help struggling families. Texas A&M RB Ainias Smith also publicized that every one of his teammates will receive a percentage of whatever profits he receives. At the end of the day, athletes play to win championships, and while there will be acrimony in some places, teams will prevail over the common goal.

These endorsement deals may be limitless. The University of Texas will allow their football players to add their own endorsement partners logo to their uniform, being the first to do so.

Athletes will need to be careful of the honesty of contracts and the financial commitments they are locking themselves into. As with professional athletes, it is of the utmost importance to protect yourself by researching the partner company, reading contracts carefully, understanding commitment terms, and being responsible and aware. In short, find a lawyer!

I am thrilled for athletes and this opportunity for them to enhance their value and create a brand that can guide them into their future. By staying true to one’s own image and brand, athletes can improve their character while peaking on the field.