NC State athletes have begun to capitalize on recent changes in the NCAA’s Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) policies. In July 2021, the NCAA gave athletes the opportunity to earn income from NIL activities.
Madison Hayes, a third-year studying communication and member of the women’s basketball team, said NIL activities assist in supporting athletes’ educations and help them build connections for the future.
“It just adds on to helping our future,” Hayes said. “Especially with future endeavors. You could be brought in for Adidas, Nike, you could be like doing car dealerships. It could really help get you out there, not only just for endeavors with companies, it could also get you out there with WNBA even though you're not trying to.”
Hayes said the top athletes in the country can now participate in paid promotions, such as modeling or recording advertisements.
“For instance, Bojangles hit me up about doing a video and coming back out with the sandwiches or some meals that they wanted to promote, that they haven't done in a while,” Hayes said. “Then they pay you for that video. I gave you something, you give something back.”
Matti Smith, director of communications for women’s basketball, men’s soccer and women’s golf at NC State, said each team’s respective communications contact assists athletes with personal branding, social media and resources to facilitate NIL activities.
“When it comes to NIL, ultimately, I think the biggest thing to remember is that the student-athletes are able to capitalize on their name, image and likeness now, but that also puts the responsibility of carrying that heavy load in their hand,” Smith said. “From our perspective, the biggest thing that I find us doing is just helping them grow their social media following, helping provide them with resources like photos and videos of themselves to do that, getting them ideas that they can do on social media to get their brands out there.”
The communication teams can help connect athletes with potential businesses and donors that want to partner with them but cannot have any involvement in contract negotiation, Smith said.
“We aren't allowed to have any involvement in … deciding how much money is going to be made or even helping them [with] big social media posts or executing whatever the deal is,” Smith said. “Most of it's just like connecting them with people. Making that initial phone call or email between the two people and then letting them take it from there.”
Smith said previous NCAA policies didn’t allow athletes to use their name, image or likeness for any kind of entrepreneurship, including their own personal brands.
“At the end of the day, I think name image and likeness is really important for our student-athletes who are go-getters and entrepreneurs and want to take initiative to make their money,” Smith said. “I like to remind people that this is great for our student-athletes who just have that entrepreneurial spirit and really want to go out and start their own business and build their personal brand.”
NCAA policy says athletes are able to hire professional services to assist in forming and managing NIL deals.
“I've really been just really focused on basketball, but I've been trying to get an agent for branding, marketing stuff,” Hayes said. “Just for branding and marketing. [They have] to go through our NC State people to make sure that they understand that I have an agent for branding and marketing. It's like a whole process, you have to make sure that they're only doing that, that you know that they're doing their job. It can be really difficult.”
Adidas is one of NC State athletes’ largest partnerships, Smith said.
“With us being one of their top clients, we've had a couple of women's soccer players and then also a women's basketball player, in addition to a couple of other student-athletes being reached out to from them,” Smith said. “So that's just a really good example of, again, a contact that we have at Adidas who just wants to figure out how to touch bases with student-athletes, so we send along that email or that phone number and then they talk from there.”
Hayes said she saves her earnings from NIL activities, but each athlete chooses to invest differently. The women’s basketball team is currently the second-highest earning athletic team at NC State behind football, Hayes said.
“I would usually save it for myself just for future references, but you know, a lot of football athletes I'm sure spend their money, most likely, because they're the highest paid team right now,” Hayes said. “A lot of people watch football more than women's basketball, but coming in second is not a bad thing.”
More information about NIL policies can be found here.