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Best Is Yet to Come?

  • The first week of the NCAA NIL era has revealed plenty of examples about the money-making opportunities awaiting athletes.
  • But it’s only the tip of the iceberg, experts say.
Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY/Design: Alex Brooks

The first week of the NCAA NIL era has revealed plenty of examples about the money-making opportunities awaiting athletes.

But it’s only the tip of the iceberg, experts say.

Hurry Up and Wait

While thousands of athletes have already begun making money, Bergman thinks they’re not at a disadvantage. In fact, they may have a leg up by waiting for the right opportunity to come along.

Bergman likened it to the NBA trade deadline. “Just because you’re not doing a deal today doesn’t mean you lose,” he said.

And while some NIL companies lined up deals for day one, others didn’t think that was necessary. “July 1 is not the be-all and end-all,” Sportsfinda founder and CEO Ahmad Elhawli told FOS. 

Next Steps

It’s not just the timing of deals. Now that NIL rules are in place, athletes can monetize a podcast or promote their music career without having to apply for a special NCAA waiver. 

And perhaps most importantly, they can explore starting businesses or other entrepreneurial ventures that could launch careers outside of sports. They could be things like sports camps and clinics, or even innovative sports startups. (One Division III tennis player is already offering tennis lessons, using his relative lack of fame as a cheeky selling point.)

But these ventures don’t necessarily need to have anything to do with sports at all.

“The student-athletes who take the most initiative are going to be the most successful,” INFLCR founder and CEO Jim Cavale told FOS.

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