Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller, the first woman to play in a Power 5 football game, is neither the first non-man to play organized football nor the first to suit up for an FBS college football game.
But Fuller’s textbook squib kick, coupled with the usual significant attention awarded to Power 5 football and a social media explosion, makes her a marquee example of a college athlete with significant name, image and likeness earning potential.
Fuller’s Brand Grows
In 2021, rules allowing athletes to profit off their NIL will take effect. When they do, two types of athletes could capitalize on NIL, Octagon Executive Vice President David Schwab wrote to FOS. While some athletes covered regularly will profit, others like Fuller will gain NIL influence through “big spikes based on heroic or unique activities.”
- In five days, Fuller saw her following grow 17,478% on Twitter and 13,300% on Instagram, Opendorse found, and her Instagram post garnered more than double the likes of Vanderbilt’s posts.
- She dominated the mainstream news cycle, receiving coverage from major outlets like Good Morning America and got Twitter love from figures like Hillary Clinton.
- The social media following of the non-profit she promoted also skyrocketed, and the organization got hundreds of donation and partnership inquiries, according to WKRN.
What’s more, Fuller’s potential NIL success echoes what many NIL observers believe: Women athletes wield significant brand power, even at the college level, and can greatly benefit financially from leveraging their NIL. “This weekend she would have been inundated with requests around her football debut,” Schwab said.
Fuller’s fame isn’t disappearing anytime soon, so she’ll likely be able to capitalize on NIL opportunities after graduation. Fuller told reporters she might hire an agent when NIL rules take effect, but that in the immediate future her focus remains on the field.
“I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that Sarah Fuller has put herself in the same category as Danica Patrick in terms of the number of brands who would want to align themselves with her if she had rights to her NIL,” Dustin Maguire, the founder of NameImageLikeness.com, wrote to FOS.