A Sports Agent’s Role in the World of NIL

You might be a little outdated if all you know about sports agents is from Jerry Maguire

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Since the NCAA lifted NIL regulations in 2021, there are various ways for college athletes to earn money from their skills and talents beyond the field. The ruling may have originated from discussions around jersey sales and video game covers, but athlete endorsements are much more creative than that now–one year into the legal business of paying NCAA athletes.

After just one year of legal NIL endorsements, Alabama QB Bryce Young is estimated to be worth $3.2 million. For those raised on Jerry Maguire, that’s more than double Rod Tidwell’s initial fax offer (of $1.4 million).

Sure, NIL agencies are helping brands show athletes the money… but how are they doing it?

What is NIL?

First, let’s get caught up on all things NIL. NIL is short for “Name, Image, and Likeness,” referring to how college athletes can profit from their roles as student-athletes.

Historically, the NCAA made it illegal for athletes to profit off of their NILs, but on July 1, 2021, they overturned the rule to allow them the opportunity to benefit from their name, image, and likeness. Since then, U.S. states and universities have introduced new regulations and programs for their student-athletes to follow if they want to get paid.

Laws preserving “the commitment to avoid pay-for-play and improper inducements tied to choosing to attend a particular school” remain intact. However, athletes can sign endorsement deals, start their own businesses, and take advantage of other opportunities to monetize their talents. And who’s going to assist athletes through this newfound advantage? NIL agencies.

What do NIL agencies do?

The role of a NIL agency is to help athletes navigate the turbulent waters of the NCAA, state, and university laws, protect their client’s rights and livelihood, and represent the athlete during business and partnership negotiations. 

Develop an action plan for your client’s NIL opportunities.

NIL agencies are responsible for creating action plans for their athletes. These plans outline how an athlete will receive brand endorsement opportunities, pricing structure, negotiating guidelines, and other strategies to increase an athlete’s value in the NIL marketplace.

Be the expert in all things NCAA, state, and university laws.

NIL representation is the expert in NCAA, state, and university NIL compliance. Agents must be familiar with every set of rules that apply: sport-specific, school-specific, and NCAA-specific regulations. Knowing the relevant rules makes brand negotiations much easier to manage and keeps athletes compliant.

Protect your client’s rights and livelihood during negotiations.

NIL agencies have a duty to protect their clients’ rights and livelihood while they are acting as representatives for athletes. They must constantly stay involved in and in touch with athletes to advise them. In this way, they often serve as a public relations touchpoint. If hiring a sports agent, college athletes should rest assured knowing that their agent will handle brand negotiations with a client-first mentality. NIL management seeks to avoid their clients getting taken advantage of.

Represent your client from contract start to finish.

NIL representation will support brand partnerships and endorsements from start to finish to ensure that each party involved (the athlete and the brand) is fulfilling the contract's duties. NIL agencies may help the athlete produce content, book travel, source help, and follow up on payment fulfillment.

How can Icon Source help with NIL representation?

We built Icon Source to connect athletes to profitable brand partnerships, and we’re on a mission to change the game of athletic endorsements. Icon Source is made up of former players and lifelong fans specializing in NIL management for college student-athletes.

Our platform allows you to meet brands, sign deals, and get paid right from your online dashboard. You get free access to hundreds of potential brand deals with no hoops to jump through, and you can customize your contracts to build the best partnerships that work best for your interests and abilities.

Athletes, agents, and brands are welcome! The more, the merrier.

NIL Agencies FAQ

Q: Will every student-athlete be represented by an agent under NIL?

A: While we’d like to say yes, it’s unlikely that every single student-athlete will have NIL representation to guide them. The top athletes will probably have multiple NIL agencies vying for their representation. However, students of all amounts of playing time can be proactive about reaching out to a NIL agency on their own if they’re interested in protecting their NIL interests–and we recommend it!

Q: Are NIL agencies licensed?

A: If they want a sports agent, college athletes must be given access to competent representation. Sports, states, and universities have their own rules for representation, certification, and licensure, but some states and universities allow athletes NIL representation from licensed agents, attorneys, or advisors, which can be friends or family.

Q: Where can I find a NIL agent?

A: No matter if you’re an up-and-coming freshman or a returning superstar, if you’re looking for a sports agent, college athletes can find NIL representation recommendations through your school’s athletic association or a sports-agent marketplace.
Welcome to the new era of athletic endorsements. Sign up for our free platform to take advantage of your personal brand and connect with potential NIL sponsorships that match your personality.

Drew Butler

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