By: Courtney Ott, Deputy Sports Editor
In the 17 months since the National Collegiate Athletic Association made the decision to allow collegiate athletes to market their name, image and likeness, several Towson University athletes have taken advantage of the new opportunities.
By approving NIL contracts, collegiate student athletes are now able to partner with companies or organizations of their choice to market and monetize their NIL, according to ESPN. The NCAA made the final decision on July 1, 2021 after enforcing their “principle of amateurism”, which means student athletes are primarily motivated by education and the physical, mental and social benefits gained by being on a collegiate team.
The agreement came upon after the U.S Supreme Court got involved and had a unanimous vote in the NCAA v. Alston case. The NCAA was ruled a federal antitrust violator after making over $19 billion per year off of college athletes, and the athletes received no revenue in return.
Despite the new opportunities the decision allows, athletes are still prohibited from being paid for their gameplay and recruits are not able to sign an NIL deal related to a particular school before attending.
Towson athletes from a wide variety of sports have started to utilize the new NCAA policy because of the monetary opportunity it brings.
Towson Athletics can not say who athletes are partnering with or any other details surrounding the NIL of players. The players interviewed by The Towerlight voluntarily disclosed their partnerships.
Towson Gymnast Camille Vitoff said she has monetized her NIL through the Postgame app. This app lets college athletes connect themselves with brands and receive compensation for the use of their NIL. Vitoff said she receives notifications from the app when a new opportunity is presented, and she can opt-in to the deals from there.
“The first I did was with Quizlet so I put in my Instagram handle and they’ll let you know in a couple of days if you’re chosen,” Vitoff said.
Brands sometimes have requirements for their deals like a certain number of followers, some will want female athletes or they will want people from certain schools, but some don’t have any criteria.
“Postgame DM’d me on Instagram and said something like, ‘Quizlet chose you and these are the benefits that come from it. If you want to be a part of it, reply back and say yes’ so I replied back and said yes,” Vitoff said.
Postgame sent Vitoff updates on what was required for the campaign with Quizlet like a theme, number of posts and a deadline.
“Their entire campaign was about being on the road and using a study tool directed at student athletes…Quizlet was one TikTok, one Instagram post and one Instagram reel,” Vitoff said. “I never talk directly to the brand, I’m sending stuff through Postgame and they are sending it to the brand. The brand is giving them feedback and then they’re telling it back to me.”
For Vitoff, payment was received after she posted for the brand and the campaign was over. Along with Quizlet, Vitoff also partnered with Clarks, a shoe brand, that consisted of one Instagram post and two Instagram reels.
“For me, it wasn’t so much as I was doing it for the money but it’s more of the experience of utilizing my tab as a student athlete,” Vitoff said. “I think it’s another thing I can do to learn more while being an athlete…it’s a cool opportunity that I’m happy to be a part of.”
The new policy from the NCAA is a big step for college athletes toward creating a larger name for themselves. The new opportunities also bring revenue to a wide, diverse number of athletes, even those who do not participate in big-name sports.
Bryce Frederick, a redshirt sophomore on Towson’s Baseball team, said he worked with brands such as &Collar, Revitalyte, and some restaurants. His biggest partnership is with Dexcom, a company that produces glucose monitoring systems for those with diabetes.
Frederick reached out to Dexcom first, looking to establish a partnership because he is a Type I diabetic who uses the product and it is beneficial to him. They reached back out to Frederick about two months later stating they were interested in collaborating.
“It was a couple posts, a couple videos, a couple of appearances if needed and it’s all written out in a professionally done contract that they would send over,” Frederick said. “Everything with them was completely contractorial in legal terms.”
This is when Frederick became a part of Dexcom U. Dexcom U is a collaboration with 14 college athletes across the nation to spread awareness about athletes and diabetes as well as to inspire the diabetic community.
“Our main focus of what we do is advocacy. When a lot of young athletes are diagnosed with diabetes, they look for people that have been in their position before and I think that comforts them a lot,” Frederick said. “The main point of what Dexcom is trying to do is not necessarily monetary as much as it is just being figures to people that you can reach out and find comfort and still play in their sport.”
Once Frederick met his end of the partnership, Dexcom sent their product for him to use.
“Our main agreement is product,” Frederick said. “They are a health company so their products are typically expensive. A year’s worth of their supply is north of $3,000…and that’s what they will send. I have my own supply and if I need more I can reach out to them…and they will send through what I need.”
NIL contracts also bring a new learning opportunity for collegiate athletes. While learning the behind-the-scenes of contracts, business exchanges, dealing with taxes or hiring agents all provide learning experiences for athletes.
Sara Parksvold is a freshman on the Towson Women’s Swimming and Diving team. Ever since she started diving her freshman year of high school, she took an interest in JOLYN bathing suits that swimmers and divers use as well as their athletic wear.
“I really liked their products ever since I started diving…I saw a promotion that they had going on for college athletes to become an ambassador for their collegiate program and I applied…now I’m an ambassador for them,” said Parksvold.
Once Parksvold became an ambassador, she had to post one Instagram post, three Instagram stories and one TikTok each month in exchange for their products and a monetary commission.
“Each month we get up to $100 of gear they have and we get to pick what we want,” said Parksvold. “We also get a discount code people can use and then we get 10% of the profit with the discount code.”
As a result of building her NIL, Parksvold has noticed more users have been attracted to her YouTube channel, “Adventures with Sara P”, once she started collaborating with JOLYN. Parksvold is excited about the new NCAA policy and the opportunity it brings.
“For my YouTube channel, I wouldn’t be able to have it once I reach the amount that I need to start getting paid by YouTube…I’m very grateful now that I can do both and not have to worry about that,” stated Parksvold.
Along with marketing their NIL, Towson athletes are also able to make a larger, national name for the university. By helping bring more attention to Towson, athletes are able to receive greater recognition and the university will have a greater appeal to recruits.
“I don’t think people fully understand that it’s not all about me, it’s not for me. It’s for the next athlete that can look at me and go, ‘I can go to Towson and play this sport and still have all these opportunities nationally,” said Frederick. “That’s the coolest thing that I think I would take away from this.”