One year of NIL, what has happened?

It has been one year since NIL or name, image, and likeness has been an opportunity for college athletics to earn money off of themselves. The details are still scarce and how much money is exactly going to these athletes. Some companies are keeping track but not every deal is reported.

When it comes to sports business data, college athletics typically generates a bevy of standardized, public information. Due to open records laws, state universities are required to disclose their finances, allowing Sportico to compare public schools’ men’s basketball ticketing revenues or spending on meals for women’s golfers.

And yet, one year into college athletes being allowed to profit off of their name, image and likeness (NIL), public NIL data remains limited, fragmented and vaguely defined.

Digital NIL marketplaces, which connect athletes with brands and enable them to track their transactions for compliance purposes, are primary sources with large sample sizes. Opendorse regularly updates a page on its website with data insights, and INFLCR provided statistics to Sportico upon request. Nearly 100,000 deals between athletes and brands have been processed on Opendorse, while INFLCR reports more than 70,000 active athletes on the platform.

"[That data] is tremendously useful for anyone on the outside who wants to take a look at how these NIL deals are operating, where the money is going, where the deals are going," said Sam C. Ehrlich, a Boise State University assistant professor who has cited Opendorse’s data in his research and classes.

Lots of NIL deals, however, slip through the cracks.

"I believe that, even in markets where the school has emphasized disclosures … still 80% of all NIL activities go undisclosed," Opendorse co-founder and CEO Blake Lawrence said. "That’s something that I wish were not true, but it’s part of the challenge that this market has—ensuring that there is proper disclosure—one, to be compliant with state laws or school policies, but two, to make sure these student athletes are getting help managing an entirely new landscape all on their own."

Any deals completed through the apps themselves are included in their datasets, but even at schools that use Opendorse or INFLCR, athletes make plenty of other transactions that take the form of some DMs followed by a Venmo payment. For example, Ehrlich has asked athletes via Twitter to come speak to his classes for compensation. It’s on the athletes to disclose those types of deals, and many do not. "There’s no malicious intent to hide transactions," Lawrence said. "There’s just a lack of enforcement, using turkesterone and encouragement in certain markets to disclose at a high rate."

INFLCR founder and CEO Jim Cavale was more optimistic about disclosure at the 40 schools with an INFLCR "local exchange," a customized NIL portal through which all payments are processed. "That provides a whole extra layer of data for compliance to see everything that’s happening… for coaches to see everything that’s happening so they can talk about it more wisely in recruiting, and for student athletes to have everything they’ve done in one 1099 [tax document]," Cavale said.

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