NIL deals: The Payments

Aidan Wirtz, Sports Editor

Johnny Manziel, Candace Parker, Tim Tebow, Zion Williamson, Reggie Bush. These specific players would have flourished if they had the money and therefore opportunities college athletes have now. Personally, Name/Image/Likeness deals (NILs)  excite me. I’ve felt strongly about all college athletes being paid for their hard work for a while. Now not only has the NCAA approved athlete payment through brand and sponsorship deals, but the amount is way more than you’d expect. 

College athletes, from licensing alone, can now generate thousands of dollars. Of course this varies depending on your name, image and likeness , but every single player will make history as the first to make money playing throughout their respective seasons. The begging question is what would this have meant for previous athletes? 

Reggie Bush in particular is one of the biggest stories. Bush had won the Hesiman trophy in 2005 when he played college ball at The University of Southern California (USC). But he was soon stripped of his victory, due to allegations of the running back receiving “lavish” gifts throughout the season, a major violation of the college rulebooks. Records, the trophy, program wins, and program scholarships were all forced to be given up or voided. 

But let’s put Bush in today’s league, where based on image and likeness, every Instagram follower, sponsorship and deal would have him swimming in money. He wouldn’t need gifts, but if received, it would cause no breakage of the rules like it did when he was a current player. 

As well as Bush, Johnny “football” Manziel experienced some trouble for taking advantage of his player popularity. When appearing on a podcast titled “Bussin with the Boys” on June 3, 2021, hosted by Barstool Sports, Manziel admitted to profiting a net of $33,000 by signing autographs. What is now a laughing matter was looked heavily down upon by the NCAA and fans at the time. And it’s an outrage. These players work incredibly hard not to be compensated for their achievements. Manziel has since done videos with Dude Perfect, a trickshot internet sensation group, which boosted his likeness and ratings even more. If this new rule had been in effect, every play, game and interview would have helped him make money. Instead, he was shamed for agreeing to an autograph deal. I believe he should have been paid in the first place. He was the biggest name in college football at the time, and not a cent was put in his bank account, despite his popularity.

These specific instances are crucial to the NIL talk, but so are the deals current college athletes are making. For example, quarterback sensation Quinn Ewers is forgoing his senior year in order to head to Ohio State (OSU) and start reeling in the bills. His situation is interesting, seeing as his high school, Carroll High School, is located in Southlake, Texas. Texas, as well as Illinois and Mississippi, have rules prohibiting high school athletes to profit off of any NIL deals. So, Ewers decided to leave early, and head to Ohio State. Ewers hasn’t played a single down at OSU yet, but currently has three NIL deals signed to his name, none of which would be legal in his home state of Texas. 

Ewers is arguably the best high school quarterback prospect since Trevor Lawrence, who was the first round, first pick to the Jaguars in the 2021 NFL draft. Although very similar, Ewers has the advantage of being able to make money in college, whereas Lawrence did not. Ewers is only 18, so we have to wonder if money will get to the head of the young star as it often does to athletes. Regardless, it won’t alter the fact that Ewers, as well as many other college athletes, will make history this year. His biggest signing, with GT Sports Marketing, has Ewers sitting on a whopping three-year, $1.4 million deal, according to Tom VanHaaren of ESPN. This will have the young quarterback signing autograph upon autograph, each adding cash to the bank. 

Money can’t buy happiness. A common phrase that used to be true. For Bush at USC, money stripped him of his titles. Johnny Manziel was scolded for profiting off signatures. But new athletes like Ewers will see major excitement from fans and the college football community, making loads more money than Manziel, Bush, or any other players made at the time. NIL deals: name, image, likeness. This is the first year it will be in full effect, so we patiently wait, anxious to see what young athletes do with their opportunities.