Key Takeaways from the First Six Months of NIL & 2022 Predictions, According to Peter Schoenthal, NIL Expert and Founder of Athliance

December 15, 2021

ORLANDO, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–July 1st, 2021, will go down as one of the most important dates in the history of college sports as the NCAA finally allowed student-athletes to monetize their names, images, and likeness without compromising their eligibility. In less than six months, this new era of NIL has generated millions of dollars through deals, endorsements, and business endeavors. Because the NCAA’s Interim NIL Policy is intentionally vague, Peter Schoenthal, CEO of Athliance, a premier Sports Management and NCAA Software company, has been actively counseling athletes, schools, leagues, and brands as they navigate the complicated web of state, league, and school NIL laws. A lawyer and NIL expert with a front-row seat to the inner-workings of NCAA NIL, Peter shares his 2022 predictions highlighting how schools, brands, and student-athletes can prepare for another unprecedented semester of NIL, including an uptick of interest in certain sports due to NIL, the financial relief, and the opportunity for many student-athletes to stay in school, along with the urgent need for compliance throughout all colleges and universities.

“For the last 115 years, college athletes were not able to profit off their name, image, and likeness – an unfair gap between them and regular students which created a paradigm between them and their universities. Name, image, likeness closes that gap by allowing student-athletes to have the ability to do what anyone else does, which is profit off who they are – whether it’s signing autographs, doing appearances, doing commercials,” says Peter Schoenthal. “The first semester of NIL saw millions of dollars of deals as athletes, schools, agents, and brands scrambled to take advantage of the new gold mine. As the dust settles for the Spring 2022 semester, the changes made to NCAA NIL will likely become a key indicator of how the industry will unfold at large over time.”

  • Compliance is Key: Despite NCAA speaking with Congress and asking for a “federal framework” around NIL and the proposed new constitution for NIL by the NCAA Constitution Committee, it is unlikely there will be major NIL legislation just yet. There is as much to gain as there is to lose with NIL, including loss of eligibility, ‘lack of institutional control’ sanctions, and potential lawsuits. Now more than ever, to avoid these sanctions, which can come after the fact, college-athletes and school administrations must take all precautions to ensure they are fully disclosing deals and understand how to be compliant. Furthermore, brands and media buyers must follow the rules and assess a deal’s liability to avoid pitfalls to confidently, securely, and legally promote their products and services.
  • Student-Athletes Will Continue to Get Creative with Deals: Social Media Posts have led the way as the most popular type of NIL deal for student-athletes thus far. In 2022, athletes, especially those who are now in the off-season, like football players, will get creative engaging in camps, lessons, merchandise, and appearances. Furthermore, athletes can now utilize NIL to participate in non-profit work and receive grants for their work.
  • An Athlete’s Brand Will Have More Power than Game Time Performance: So far, many of the athletes with extremely profitable NIL deals have huge followers on social media, like the Cavinder twins, who are basketball players at Fresno State and have 3.6 million followers on TikTok. As such, brands will be more cautious about getting involved with players just based on their performance projection and focus a little bit more on their marketability. NIL is driven by marketability, not performance, although performance can be an indicator and factor in marketability.
  • Instead of Going Pro, Athletes Can Stay in School Longer: Many student-athletes might have felt the need to leave school early to go pro due to financial hardship. The ones that can go pro in sports can now stay in school longer, hone in on their craft, gain real-life experience as it pertains to reviewing contracts, forming a business, filing taxes, and building their brand.
  • In The Short-Term, NIL Will Have a Significant Impact on Recruitment Which Will Wane Over Time: Student-athletes will choose to go to universities that better prepare them for life after sports or grant them the best opportunity to go pro in their sport. While certain platforms that schools use can help students access deal opportunities, they can’t help them secure deals or turn an athlete into a star – deals are dictated by marketability, not school resources.
  • Female Student-Athletes, Especially Gymnasts, Will Be NIL Powerhouses: Most social media influencers are women, and female athletes have an ingrained work ethic that lends itself to being an influencer. Moreover, while mainstream media channels have failed to promote and elevate college women’s athletics, social media has demonstrated how popular these athletes and their sports are in their communities, such as LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne featuring in a Times Square billboard. Brand deals like these also increase the general name recognition with stars of a sport. SEC gymnastics has many athletes with huge social media followings who will generate deals. Rather than a fervor every four years in time for the Summer Olympics, this NIL engagement will benefit gymnastics at large as fans and the public tune in to watch athletes they recognize in SEC gymnastic competitions.
  • D2 & D3 Schools’ Athletes Will Make as Many Deals as D1 Athletes: 99% of NIL deals will come in the form of smaller deals: making an appearance at a sports training camp, a post for a local restaurant, etc. Since marketability is the driver, these smaller or mid-sized schools’ athletes have the same NIL appeal as an athlete from a large school.
  • Congress Will Address The Issue of International Student-Athletes: Currently, international student-athletes cannot profit off their NIL because it is outside the scope of their F1 visa. Despite international student-athletes accounting for roughly 15% of the student-athlete population, they face revoked visas or deportation if they were to engage in NIL deals. Given the precedence in professional athletics, Congress will have to create a carve-out in the F1 visa to allow college athletes to participate on NIL.

“The big fear was that NIL was going to ruin college sports. I think we’ve recognized that it does not ruin college sports. It’s actually a positive, but it’s only going to remain a positive so long as we make sure that the space is filled with good actors that have the student-athletes’ best interests in mind and the approach that NIL helps college athletics,” shares Peter. “When the landscape changes, so does the need for a new solution. Brands and athletic departments want to make sure they are running efficiently and compliantly, making it important to partner with a company that knows the NIL space and shares the same values. That’s what Athliance strives to do — bring a protection-focused, forward-thinking mentality to create a solution to an ever-changing landscape.”

About Athliance

Athliance’s proprietary NIL education and opportunity management software empowers compliance departments to operate more efficiently in the new world of college athletics. Their tools and resources allow Universities to maintain current staff levels by automating the communication and workflow of every single opportunity presented to student-athletes, start-to-finish. Their solution mitigates NIL risks and protects scholarships, sponsorships, and post-season appearances. Furthermore, their real-time reporting provides valuable data and insights for marketing and recruiting purposes.


Dara Shlifka