How the NCAA’s endorsement rule change is paying off for college athletes

The NCAA's rule change allowing college athletes to sign paid endorsement deals went into effect in July 2021. Dan Matheson, director of the Sport and Recreation Management Program at the University of Iowa, joins John Yang to discuss how it's been playing out for student athletes in the year and a half since.

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  • John Yang:

    This week as many college football rivals have been facing off to wrap up the regular season. We thought it would be a good time to see how one of the biggest off field rule changes in years is playing out. It is called name-image-likeness and it allows athletes to sign paid endorsement deals.

    Dan Matheson is director of the sport and recreation management program at the University of Iowa, he's also a former NCAA Associate Director of enforcement. Dan Matheson, thanks for joining us. This rule change went into effect July 2021. So we have had about a year and a half. How has it been going so far?

    Dan Matheson, Professor, University of Iowa: It has been going quite well. Student athletes have been signing NIL deals to the tune of about $1 billion in the first year. And it's opened up new rights that are benefiting student athletes across the country in many different ways.

  • John Yang:

    There was some thought or some fear that it would create sort of haves and have nots, that the big name, big sport, big spool athletes would wrap up all of the endorsement money. And all the other athletes would be fighting over what was left. Has not played out?

  • Dan Matheson:

    No. Certainly, football student athletes are number one in terms of NIL earnings. But one of the great benefits of name, image and likeness has been the opportunity to spread the wealth little bit amongst women student athletes and whether traditionally nonrevenue sports or the Olympic sports.

    So among the top 5 to 10 sports in terms of signing NIL deals, you have women's basketball, softball, women's gymnastics, and other sports that historically student athletes happen to have professional of opportunities in. So these students have the opportunity to capitalize on their college athletics fame and notoriety while they are at the peak of their earning potential.

  • John Yang:

    And you make that point. Many of them aren't going to go on to professional careers. Many of them won't be as well-known again. So this is a prime opportunity for them?

  • Dan Matheson:

    Absolutely. You seen many examples of, like I said, women student athletes are earning a great deal in name, image and likeness. And you've got several examples, the Cavinder twins at the University of Miami in women's basketball, and others that are quite successful in the NIL space beyond what people would traditionally think of as football and men's basketball, which definitely are at the top of the list, but so many others below those sports.

  • John Yang:

    Has anyone been left out in this?

  • Dan Matheson:

    I would not say anybody has been left out, unless they have chosen to stay on the sidelines. Now, there are some student athletes considered a distraction. They are focused on their playing careers, and their classes, and being a student, and don't want the extra responsibility of pursuing deals and building their, in many cases, building a social media following in order to get name, image, and likeness deals.

    But that's — the beauty of name, image, and likeness is it really is available for all student athletes if they can build a following. The majority of name, image, and likeness deals are for social media influencer work. And so that really democratize us this space. There are student athletes at non-division 1 schools finding success in NIL work. Thanks to their ability to build a following on social media.

  • John Yang:

    Dan Matheson from the University of Iowa. Thank you very much.

  • Dan Matheson:

    Thank you, John.

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