New NIL rules should benefit athletes at all levels, experts say
Revenue from name, image and likeness rights will benefit athletes — men and women — at all levels of college sports, a pair of financial experts say.
Female athletes, Olympic sports athletes, NCAA Division III athletes — they’ll all have opportunities to monetize their rights when the new NIL marketplace works its way through the NCAA’s legislative process and goes into effect next year.
“The opportunities are going to be wide, and they’re going to go across all levels,” said Courtney Altemus, CEO and founder of TeamAltemus, a Philadelphia-based firm that specializes in financial and life planning for college and pro athletes.
“There’s going to be a really cool soccer player from one of these small schools who is going to have the chance to bank some real money,” she said. “Not everybody is going to be the next Joe Burrow, but there will be widespread opportunities.”
One of the thorniest debates associated with NIL rights is who stands to gain or lose the most. Those most concerned by the NIL structure say a majority of the money will go to the top handful of athletes who have the biggest name recognition. Athletic directors Kevin White from Duke and Bubba Cunningham from North Carolina recently objected to the NIL structure under consideration.
Drew Hawkins, who founded financial literacy firm Edyoucore in Baltimore and whose college clients include Michigan, envisions moneymaking opportunities adding up for athletes outside the elite level.
“You’re talking about kids in college potentially making the kind of money that they’d make in their first job,” Hawkins said. “When you put together social media, autographs and appearances, you’ve got some real money for young men and women.”
TeamAltemus and Edyoucore are two major players in this very narrow field of financial education aimed at athletes, which ranges from budgeting and investing to guidance on agents and advisers.
Many schools have said financial education will take on a higher profile over the next year so that their athletes will be prepared.
Under the proposed NIL rules, schools have made it clear that they won’t assist athletes with monetizing their NIL rights and won’t help arrange endorsement deals. That will be up to the athletes and their advisers.
The one area where schools agree they can play an important role, however, is in education.
“For some of these young men and women, this could be money they use to start their business or put into the market,” Altemus said. “We don’t want to miss this potentially huge group of student athletes.”
Third-party finance experts like Altemus and Edyoucore already are pitching schools on their financial literacy programs, which can cost schools from the thousands to tens of thousands annually depending on the program.
“They’re all going to need training on decision-making and due diligence because they’re going to have people coming at them,” Altemus said.
“The approach isn’t necessarily different, but the goals might be. An athlete who’s on a partial scholarship might make $50,000 and the goal is to graduate debt-free, which would be different than the elite athlete. One might need an accountant; the other might be fine with ‘Quicken Self-Employed.’”
Altemus has worked with football players at powerhouses like Alabama, Clemson and Georgia to help them prepare for the life-changing money they’re about to make. Hawkins started the sports and entertainment practice at Morgan Stanley prior to Edyoucore.
That kind of financial literacy is typically offered for the highest-tier athletes who are pegged to be future pros. Altemus has taught financial responsibility at the annual NCAA-sponsored symposiums for elite football and basketball players.
As NIL approaches, however, the need for a much broader curriculum beyond one geared toward elite athletes is becoming more apparent.
It also speaks to the NIL moneymaking opportunities that will evolve for athletes outside of football and basketball.
“They’re going to have access to some of the NIL opportunities out there,” Hawkins said. “In addition to that, the schools want to make sure they’re building a financial foundation so that when they get those resources, they’re making sound decisions.”