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College Athletes Could Earn $1.5B This Year

  • On July 1, the NCAA began allowing college athletes to benefit from their name, image, and likeness.
  • The payday could help them earn as much as $1.5 billion this year alone.
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports/Design: Alex Brooks

On July 1, the NCAA began allowing college athletes to benefit from their name, image, and likeness — and the payday could help them collectively earn as much as $1.5 billion this year, per endorsement platform Opendorse.

The NIL era got off to a hot start, with Opendorse alone facilitating at least 1,000 deals in the first 24 hours.

  • Some of the top athletes could earn an estimated $6.5 million annually when the NIL market matures, according to sports marketing experts.
  • The U.S. Department of Education says America’s college sports industry is valued at $14.4 billion, including broadcast rights, merchandise, and ticket sales.

Apparel is a particularly popular source of revenue in the the NIL era’s infancy. Some players have the ability to make five or six figures selling apparel The Players Trunk co-founder Hunter Pomerantz told Front Office Sports in July.

Not all college athletes will garner lucrative deals, however. Around 81% of NIL contracts signed since July are valued at less than $100.

The NCAA hopes to introduce federal regulation of NIL to bridge the gap between existing state laws and athletes, believing that a marketplace without a national statute could be harmful by not providing fair competition.

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