A non-NCAA athlete may serve as the case study for NCAA athletes seeking to monetize their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”). Chloe Mitchell, a freshman volleyball player at Aquinas College, plays in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (“NAIA”) and is regarded as the first college athlete to monetize her NIL.
The NAIA began allowing athletes to monetize their NIL in October of 2020, and since then, Mitchell has taken advantage despite not being a nationally-known athletic superstar. Because of her prowess on social media, Mitchell has endorsed small golf brands like Bloodline Golf and Delta Putt. She has also worked with a beverage company called Smart Cups.
Although Mitchell’s compensation is undisclosed, Opendorse founder Blake Lawrence suggested her Instagram posts (48,000 followers) could be valued at $516 per post while her TikTok videos (2.6 million followers) could be valued at $15,000-20,000 per video. Her story is just the beginning of what NIL could look like for NCAA athletes.
Enter: shoe and apparel companies. Shoe companies, specifically when it comes to college basketball, have been involved in controversial relationships with college athletes in the past (see Adidas and Nike scandals). The NCAA, in its April 2020 NCAA proposal to Congress, even attempted to define third-party apparel companies as “boosters,” thereby prohibiting athletes from signing NIL endorsement deals with the companies:
“When considering those regulations, the working group recommends that the Board of Governors encourage the divisions to consider the following issues in particular:
(2) Whether certain categories of third-party businesses (e.g., athletics shoe and apparel companies) should be precluded from, or have limited participation in, the newly permitted activities, due to their history of encouraging or facilitating recruiting and other rules infractions[.]”