College football, female basketball players get the most endorsements

The revenue floodgates began to open for college athletes last summer when the NCAA began letting student-athletes profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL) – and some of the biggest winners, as expected, are college football players.

An estimated 47.1% of NIL contracts to date belong to football players, according to six months of data collected by Opendorse, a software company that provides a platform for athletes and their sponsorship deals.

Women’s basketball, with 27.3% of VOID contracts, ranks second. Men’s basketball comes next, with 15.6% of transactions.

The remaining NIL transactions are split between Women’s Volleyball (2.4%), Baseball (1.1%), Men’s Track & Field (0.7%), Women’s Gymnastics (0.6%), Athletics (0.6%), women’s swimming and diving (0.5%) and softball (0.4%).

Haley (in orange shoes) and Hanna Cavinder are star basketball players from Fresno State University, and they have taken advantage of the NCAA's new NIL policy as they have sponsorship deals with WWE and several other companies.

This data is based on transactions facilitated by Opendorse Desk – so it does not provide the complete picture and does not take into account the nuances that vary by sport. However, it does provide a first look at how – and which – student-athletes will benefit from the new policy.

Female athletes appear to be relatively big winners – a stark contrast to early criticism that allowing athletes to take advantage of endorsements would further widen the gap between male and female athletes.

One of the biggest examples to contradict that claim is Paige Bueckers, the University of Connecticut star guard who has signed two major endorsement deals, including with Gatorade. She also signed a deal with StockX, an online marketplace and clothing retailer. Bueckers is on track to get her back on the court after being out for two months following knee surgery in December.

Connecticut guard Paige Bueckers plays against Butler in the first quarter of an NCAA college basketball game in Indianapolis on Saturday, February 27, 2021.

Just a day before the start of the NIL era, Rutgers Athletics announced the launch of R Edge, an education platform powered by Opendorse Ready. The platform was intended to help Scarlet Knights student-athletes with the management and development of their NIL offerings.

“The R Edge program is a major step in helping our student-athletes maximize their potential,” Rutgers athletic director Pat Hobbs said in a statement at the time. “We strive to prepare our student-athletes to succeed in the classroom and in competition. In this rapidly changing landscape, we also want to do everything we can to prepare them to take advantage of these new opportunities. »

The goal of this platform, and others like it, is to provide student-athletes with the opportunity to reflect on their future outside of their chosen sport. During a preseason interview in November, Timothy Eatman, the interim head coach of Rutgers women’s basketball, hinted that the NIL deals were a game-changer this season.

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“Those are the things on the floor that we’re gearing up to improve on because Rutgers was always a program that said we were going to prepare you for life, after basketball – whether you wanted to be a basketball pro, whether you wanted to be a pro in life,” Eatman said. “Our mission has always been to spoon feed our players to prepare them for life after basketball. But because of this situation now – name, image and likeness – it is pretty much now.

This new reality is already rippling through the younger ranks of competitive sports, including New Jersey’s high school landscape.

In November, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association approved a landmark proposal that allows high school athletes to enjoy their name, image and likeness beginning this month. Jimmy Mullen, a wrestler and junior heavyweight football player from St. Joseph, is believed to be one of the first high school athletes in the state to enjoy new rules. He recently signed a deal with Eat Clean Bro, a Freehold-based healthy food delivery company, which went into effect January 1.

“They told me they would like me to be the first high school athlete to do it since New Jersey,” Mullen said. “I knew I wanted to do something that would help me on the mat.”

Melanie Anzidei is a reporter for To get unlimited access to the latest news, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.


Twitter: @melanieanzidei

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