College Athletes Score Big as Influencers with NIL Deal

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Social media influencers come from many different backgrounds and have lots to offer. They also have different niches that capture a variety of audiences. In an age where anyone can share their successes and failures, a new wave of influencers have arrived and they’re making waves. College athletes capture the interest of many and are taking over the news cycles. With the 2023 March Madness tournament wrapping up and other spring sports coming to an end, it’s time to reflect on how these athletes are influencing us all.

Putting in the Work

Athletes are scouted as young adults after years of perfecting their sport. Time, dedication, and tons of work is put in to get where they are. As we watch athletes on TV, on social media and in person, all we are able to see is their performance, causing us to form opinions on them, primarily based on their performance. When an athlete gains a following on social media, they bring new types of content to their audience. As consumers of content, we get to learn more about their personal lives and life outside of their sport. 

A New Wave of Opportunities

As you may have seen on TV or social media, a large part of a professional athlete’s fame derives from sponsorships from well-known companies. Up until July 2021, the governing body of collegiate athletics, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), did not allow student athletes to be compensated for their Name, Image and/or Likeness via endorsements. The NCAA decided that income cannot go directly to the collegiate athlete based on their performance, but they can accept compensation for a partnership they did for a company. For example, if they pose for a picture for an organization, they could compensate them for that. 

The Cavinder twins, Haley and Hanna, are a great example of this policy change. The Cavinder twins are two women who play women’s basketball for the University of Miami. Haley and Hanna Cavinder gained fame on TikTok from dancing and basketball related content. Later in the season, all eyes were on them when University of Miami made it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA March Madness Tournament. Boost Mobile and Champs Sports are just a couple of big brands that have made deals with the Cavinder twins, setting the tone for collegiate endorsements.

Boost Mobile made the twins a #BoostPartner, featuring them in TikTok videos and billboards promoting the cell phone company. Furthermore, the twins are the face of the “We Know Game” campaign for Champs Sports, emphasizing that the twins are great examples of athletes on and off the court.

The Future of Social Media Athlete Influencers

Many college athletes tend to leave their university early to chase the dream of playing professionally. The driving factor for this decision is better pay. Now, with new income opportunities, players will not feel the need to leave college early, allowing them more time to pursue their education and athletic career.

You could be asking yourself, what is the significance of this news? Why does this matter? Well, many college athletes are not playing sports with any scholarship. Meaning, they could be juggling sports and school while having to pay for it all themselves. The advancement in compensation for college athletes is just the beginning for what’s to come. Opportunities for college athletes not only reflect compensation from brands, but also career opportunities in social media. It is exciting to see what the social media influencer industry holds for creators of all backgrounds and experience.

Freelance contribution especially written for Find Your Influence by Olivia Sullivan.


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