*Editor’s Note: CC Biz Buzz is a monthly column series that features insightful commentary from a member of the Columbia College Robert W. Plaster School of Business faculty.
By Jonathon Moberly
In July 2021, the landscape of Division I college football, basketball (men’s and women’s), ice hockey and baseball collectively changed forever by allowing student-athletes in these programs to make money off the use of their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL).
Since the enactment of NIL in the summer of 2021, most D-I universities – or friends and alumni of particular universities – have developed two initiatives:
- the requirement for outside organizations to register with the university’s athletic department prior to contacting a student-athlete;
- “NIL collectives,” which are separate entities from the university (many of which are formed as 501c3 nonprofit organizations) where anyone can donate to the “collective” at that university and board members of that collective choose how the money raised can be dispersed to student-athletes for use of the athletes’ NIL
Among the four programs with first-year head coaches we discussed in the August CC Biz Buzz article (Arizona State, University of Alabama at Birmingham, UNC Charlotte and Purdue), the first NIL collective to launch was the Boilermaker Alliance, established in July 2022 as a 501c3 nonprofit organization to benefit Purdue student-athletes. In August 2022, the Sun Angel Collective was formed as a 501c3 nonprofit tied to Arizona State. According to the website On3.com, this collective has raised $1 million since its formation. In November 2022, the UAB Local Exchange was formed as an NIL collective developed to benefit UAB student-athletes. In May 2023, the Goldmine Alliance was formed as an LLC (Limited Liability Company) as an NIL collective for the benefit of Charlotte student-athletes.
Shannon Terry is the founder and CEO of On3, the leader in NIL market and athlete valuation. On3 provides a valuation of the “Brand Value,” which encompasses the sponsorship and licensing market, along with a valuation of the “Roster Value,” which encompasses data from all school collectives. The “Brand Value” and the “Roster Value” that are calculated provide a total value of the NIL market.
In addition to the NIL market valuation, On3 also measures each athlete’s “Brand Value” and “Roster Value” by gathering data on three areas: 1) Performance (national rankings at position, national awards, performance against strong opponents); 2) Strength of influence (particularly social media followers); and 3) Exposure received (athletes who attend an institution with a lot of media attention and a large fan base will have more opportunity for exposure). An athlete’s “Roster Value” is based partially on the amount generated by the NIL collective that is connected to that athlete’s athletic department as a result of that athlete. However, the athlete’s “Brand Value Index” is based on licensing and sponsorship opportunities that are not generated necessarily by the NIL collective connected to that athlete’s institution, but rather where an organization contacts the athlete directly.
Hudson Card, a quarterback who transferred to Purdue after Ryan Walters was announced as the new CEO, has an On3 NIL valuation of $73,000, with two recent deals through the Boilermaker Alliance collective over the past couple months. While Card — now the Boilermakers’ starting signal caller — has 44,000 total followers on Instagram and X combined, his rank among all college football players in regard to NIL value is 1,104th. Deion Burks, a wide receiver at Purdue, experienced a 554% growth in his NIL valuation that is now $267,000, largely due to his “Brand Value” increase from his performance and exposure in Purdue’s season opener against Fresno State, when he posted an 84-yard touchdown run. Burks has 14,100 followers on Instagram, X and TikTok combined, with a college football NIL valuation that ranks 176th and an overall NIL valuation ranking of 263rd. Unfortunately, the opener ended in a loss for Purdue and first-time CEO Walters.
Arizona State, meanwhile, has one player with an NIL valuation above $100,000: Jaden Rashada, the starting quarterback who threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns against Southern Utah in new CEO Kenny Dillingham’s first win, with a $406,000 valuation. Rashada has 42,000 followers on X and Instagram combined with a college football NIL valuation ranking of 105th. Teammate Chad Johnson Jr., a wide receiver and son of former All-Pro NFL wide receiver Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, has a $67,000 valuation and 58,000 followers on X and Instagram combined. Johnson Jr. has a college football NIL valuation ranking of 1,342nd. Johnson Jr.’s “Brand Value” actually decreased by 11% since July, partially due to his performance in the season opener that ended with a single reception for five yards.
Arizona State has upside in being able to compete in NIL with a large media market in Phoenix. Purdue has an uphill battle ahead in the NIL game as Lafayette, Indiana, is a relatively small media market. Neither UAB nor Charlotte have any NIL information on the On3 website. However, both new CEOs — Biff Poggi at Charlotte and Trent Dilfer at UAB — got their first victories last weekend.
In the big picture of NIL valuation, Shedeur Sanders, a junior quarterback at the University of Colorado and son of its new football CEO Deion Sanders, has a $3.8 million NIL valuation that increased 171% in the past week. This was due to 1) his stellar performance of 510 passing yards and four touchdowns on Saturday, Sept. 2, in Colorado’s win against last year’s national runner-up TCU and 2) his increase of nearly 1.2 million followers on Instagram, TikTok and X combined in the past five weeks.
Approximately 32 states (including Missouri) allow high school student-athletes to earn money from their NIL that in turn provides data for them to have an NIL valuation calculated. Dylan Raiola, who is beginning his senior year at Buford High School in Buford, Georgia, has an NIL valuation of $904,000. This makes him the 31st-most valuable athlete in the nation for NIL, including among college athletes. Many top athletes are going into the college recruiting process with immense experience with NIL. Finding an institution that will be a catalyst to increase their NIL valuation becomes just as important of a factor as the program’s history of having players move on to the professional level.
Team success and positive media attention for a player’s program directly impact their ability to generate high-dollar NIL deals. If a program does not win, NIL opportunities will likely decrease. In today’s business of college football, this could result in a flood of players entering the transfer portal.
Jonathon Moberly, J.D., is the new dean of the Columbia College Robert W. Plaster School of Business. Moberly has more than 16 years of experience in higher education after working for five years in the sports business industry representing professional athletes.