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Small-School Problems

  • Division II and III athletic departments want to help their athletes profit off NIL.
  • But the lack of resources makes it more difficult for them to do so.
Photo: Concordia University Chicago Athletics/Design: Alex Brooks
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In the world outside college athletics, people can profit off their name, image, and likeness without nearly as many restrictions as the NCAA wanted to implement on athletes.

And many people — including regular college students — do just that, without any help from their institutions.

But it’s no secret that providing educational resources on brand building, financial literacy, and even legal tips can help college athletes make bank on NIL. 

Division II and III athletic departments want to help. But the lack of resources makes it more difficult to do so.

David vs. Goliath?

Small schools are already at a disadvantage. One person in an athletic department may do the job of an entire team at a Power 5 school. So they have fewer personnel to begin with, like social media creators or compliance officers.

Wealthy D-I schools from Nebraska to Tennessee have spent the past year building sprawling NIL programs, hiring consultants for NIL education, content creation, compliance, and more. 

But many D-II and D-III schools can’t afford to enlist a network of NIL companies on their payroll, D-III Concordia University Chicago Director of Athletic Communications, Kristen Keller, told FOS.

Less Money, More Problems

The combination of these factors creates two main problems. 

First, they don’t have access to outside experts who can help them navigate NIL laws — since the NCAA isn’t supplying them. So it’s more difficult for them to teach athletes not just how to monetize their NIL, but also to make sure they’re not violating state or NCAA regulations.

Lipinski said that his department’s compliance office has been able to get some background info in the past few months from his conference. But at the D-III level, “the information that the public has is, as of right now, what the schools have,” Keller said.

And even when they do get educated, they don’t have the money to provide the programs they think athletes need. Even the cheapest NIL education “isn’t something that we budgeted for,” Keller said. 

And schools likely don’t have in-house resources to re-purpose, either.

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