The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the organization in charge of college sports in the United States, has been under pressure to address restrictions on college athletes for quite some time. For the stated goal of maintaining “amateurism,” the NCAA has prohibited college athletes from making money on their celebrity status in their name, image, or likeness (NIL).

But that has all changed. After a unanimous decision handed down by the Supreme Court, the NCAA changed its rules on July 1st, 2021, opening up marketing and influencer possibilities for college athletes beyond their scholarships – which are usually restricted to tuition, room, and board. 

Now that college athletes have room to test the waters of NIL advantages, where is the most practical and immediate place to turn? Influencer marketing, of course.

Here is why we think college athletes as influencers are going to catch fire moving forward. 


Athletes Are Primed For Influence

Where college athletes have the most opportunity is through influence on social media. They not only have more understanding and experience on social platforms because of their general exposure and experience, but they also have student, alumni, faculty, and community support to support their influencing initiatives. In some cases, they can even get paid better than the pros on the same platforms. 

​​Student-athletes understand these platforms much better than a lot of the professionals now getting paid to manage them,” Kenon Brown, an associate professor at the University of Alabama, told Yahoo Finance in a recent interview. “And I think it’s coming into the spotlight with these endorsements that you’re seeing.”

It didn’t take long for athletes to take advantage of the new NIL rules. For example, the very day the Supreme Court ruling was announced, women’s college basketball twins Hannah and Haley Cavender released a Boost Mobile ad on a central New York Times Square billboard. That sure was fast! And there were more released on the day of the ruling, according to July 2nd report on NBC Sports.


Sports + Influencers = A Perfect Match

Professional sports celebrities are known for endorsing products, and the health, fitness, fashion, and beverage industries are some of the most sizable influencer marketing sectors.

Influencer marketing in sports can get expensive when professional sports celebrities are involved. Unless they are well-established ones like Nike or Gatorade, many companies cannot afford the price tag that comes with big celebrity status. However, many lesser-profile sports influencers can help brands of any size remain within their marketing budget. For college athletes and companies with smaller marketing budgets, this is a great benefit for both parties. 

Even more, sporting and fitness influencers at any level are popular with their fans, who have happily gone online to learn about their latest successes or how they train to stay on top of their game. However, they are now more important than ever, when people are stuck at home trying to find alternative ways to train or just other ways to spend their time.


Viral Nation Offers Sports Support

With a foundation of influence and a viral spirit, Viral Nation Sports is a pioneer in the industry, understanding what’s coming next in the world of sports influencers. As a leading influencer marketing and digital agency, we work with some of the biggest brands, creating and scaling the most memorable campaigns. The new world of sports management is a game we are always winning because we understand the relationship between authentic influencers, the brands they represent, and the followers who pay attention. Here’s how we help influencers succeed: 

  • Revenue Stream Development 
  • Brand Partnerships 
  • Merchandising 
  • Multichannel Network Negotiations 
  • Legal Consultations 
  • Viral Community 
  • Career Development 
  • Multichannel Development 
  • Rebranding 
  • Client Negotiations 
  • Influencer Support 
  • Marketing and Execution 

With such a thorough portfolio of services and guidance, and the ability to recognize how college athletes can naturally and authentically engage with followers, Viral Nation is your recipe for success. 


In Closing

With the NCAA lifting tight regulations on college athletes, there is a world of opportunity for them to embrace. The debate over college athlete NIL is now coming to a close, which allows them to take advantage of the opportunities that are now open to them. We are looking forward to seeing how we can be a part of their growth and brand recognition while also further promoting influencer industry success.

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