Since last summer, student-athletes in college athletics have been able to monetize their name, likeness, and likeness (NIL) rights, opening a new frontier at Penn State and other universities.
According opendorse.com. Football receives 49.9% of NIL compensation and men’s basketball 17%, leaving 33.1% of NIL compensation to non-revenue-generating sports.
Today, athletes and coaches in unpaid sports are trying to navigate the future and the opportunities available to them.
At last month’s Big Ten Media Days, Penn State’s new athletic director Pat Kraft shared his vision for what NIL could one day look like. everything Penn State athletes.
“What I would like it to look like is that if you come to Penn State, you have the opportunity to do the same as everyone else in the country and we have maximized the power of the brand to help you. to maximize your own brand,” says Kraft. “We’re really thinking now, ‘How will this work for 4-5 to 10 years? We must be the leader. ”
How coaches and players adapt
Penn State head baseball coach Rob Cooper knows he still has a lot to learn about NIL – and he’s eager to share it with his players.
“I haven’t done a great job so far just because I’m still learning,” Cooper said. “He hasn’t infiltrated college baseball until now. Now it becomes a problem. »
He hopes to bring in experts from whom they can all learn.
“I’ve always been a person where, unless I understand it, I don’t want to comment on it. I don’t want to give anyone bad information, especially our student-athletes,” Cooper said.
One such athlete is rising junior right-hander Travis Luensmann, a native of Altoona (Bellwood-Antis) who spent his first season in 2021 with South Carolina and was still with the program in his NIL debut. He transferred to Penn State ahead of the 2021-22 school year and learned about how he could build a brand at Penn State, a location just 35.6 miles from his high school.
“NIL stuff was brought to me last fall at Penn State,” Luensmann said. “We had a few meetings, classes and Zoom calls on it because it was pretty new at the time. We were just getting started at Penn State and we were getting to know the rules of how things work, how to market yourself, and how to build your digital profile. It was more about guiding you and making sure your online presence is positive and respectful of the team and the university.
Luensmann is one of the faces of the team and is looking to represent him by expanding his reach on social media to strike NIL deals. He has over 400 followers on Twitter and over 1,200 on Instagram. The right-handed starting pitcher has a deal with Cellucore — a supplement brand that sends him pre-workout, among other things, but he receives no compensation.
He has his eyes set on certain products he would like to promote, especially ones that reflect who he is on and off the court.
“I would really like to go out with glove marks and things like that,” Luensmann said. “Also, if I could get into the clothing brands there. The clothing brands I’d really like to get into might include shoes, but it’s really hard to get into. I think on the other side with Cellucore, I could see myself with a paid nutrition sponsor. They send me meals and protein shakes and stuff like that. There’s sports equipment and I could also get into fishing stuff like Tackle House and Bass Pro Shop and all that.
Penn State women’s basketball forward Anna Camden has also taken advantage of ways to find out about NIL over the past year.
“Me and Coach Kiegs have had many discussions about this and I think Penn State’s compliance as a whole has been helpful in educating all of the athletes,” Camden said in July. “If you want help or advice, it’s here. You just have to reach out for it. I know as a team we’ve had a few presentations on this…everyone is still learning and figuring out how much they want to get involved and then what not(s) ‘imply).
Carolyn Kieger, head coach of the Penn State women’s basketball team, believes athletes who play collegiate women’s sports have a lot to gain in the NIL era, where women in particular are using social media to drive engagement and offers.
“It gives us more opportunities to be seen, it gives us more opportunities to be heard and it creates a platform for our young women to use their voices to inspire and motivate and hopefully , increase the number of young children who want to compete,” Kieger said. “I think it gives their reach a wider net to be able to have young women to look up to. This allows them to have a safe space to use the ball for impact off the pitch.
Social media at the forefront of NIL transactions
Unpaid athletes have several ways to break into brands by posting content on social media. Usually this includes placing ads in a video or photo, discussing a brand on a podcast.
This is an area where Camden has had great success cashing in on NIL.
The rising eldest has over 16,300 followers on Instagram, over 1,200 followers on Twitter and over 236,000 followers on TikTok. Her social media platform has helped her and others close deals.
Among these opportunities are Roots Natural Kitchen, We Lock Kicks, Champs Sports and JBL Headphones. She has also worked with Paramount Pictures to promote a film and the Peyton Walker Foundation in her hometown of Camp Hill.
“I think it’s an equal platform for anyone who wants to take advantage of it,” Camden said. “Obviously, there are many ways to take advantage of it. Whether it’s social media, appearances, or starting your own business, I think that’s the beauty of it. There is something for everyone to explore. And while it’s been super exciting, I think you don’t necessarily have to be the best at your sport to enjoy NIL. On the other hand, you also don’t need to have a million social media followers to enjoy it.
Increase resources to help guide student-athletes
Penn State athletes now have a number of resources to guide them through the uncharted waters of NIL.
Limitless NIL, created by Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford and his brother, wide receiver Liam, was formed to help student-athletes take advantage of NIL, while educating them about new legislation. More than 25 athletes, including Camden, are involved, according to its website.
Nittany Commomwealth – with Chairman Michael Krentzman at the helm – and Success With Honor – created by CEO Mark Toniatti, Ira Lubert and Bob Poole – are the two largest NIL collectives benefiting Penn State. The former is a football-exclusive collective, while the latter benefits all sports at Penn State.
These collectives, and others like them, are designed to help student-athletes by creating NIL opportunities for them.
Success with Honor has subscription rates from $10 to $500 per month to benefit student-athletes. A subscriber can donate to a specific sport and a specific athlete and 85-90% of the revenue generated by the collective will go directly to the student-athletes.
While football drives as the main revenue generator in Penn State’s athletic department, Toniatti also understands that there are more than 850 student-athletes at the university and only 300 of them benefit of a full scholarship. With the majority of student-athletes not receiving full scholarships, Success With Honor appears to be able to create opportunities for them to leverage their social media with the organization – including signing autographs for fans because he thinks student-athletes are “great representatives of the university.
Nineteen Penn State athletes were sent to the Name, Image and Likeness Seminar in Atlanta in June. The university had the largest representation of any school in the country with track and field, lacrosse, and fencing athletes. Success With Honor seeks to continue to develop athlete profiles in non-profit sports.
“We try to help other sports as best we can and I think we’re doing well right now,” Toniatti said. “I think we’ll continue to do that knowing football is the driving force. As focused as we are on getting coach (James) Franklin taken care of, we want to help other sports as well. We have fans who are genuinely interested in other sports.