SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — They may not make millions but college student athletes in South Dakota have the chance to make money from their name, image and likeness.
It’s been more than a year since the NCAA approved its name, image and likeness (NIL) policy which allows college athletes to monetize their NIL.
Not every athlete in the state will earn North Carolina men’s basketball athlete Cole Anthony’s estimated potential $460,000 but there are opportunities.
“Running their own summer camp and being able to make their own money by running the camp,” is one example of how a student athlete can benefit from NIL, said Jamie Oyen, senior associate athletic director at the University of South Dakota. Oyen oversees the NIL policy at USD.
“We’re not talking high dollar deals at our level,” Oyen said.
Nate Davis, the athletic director at Northern State University in Aberdeen, said athlete interest in NIL is picking up after a slow start last year. Local businesses are showing some interest, he said.
Interest from local and regional businesses is likely for USD student athletes as well, Oyen said.
Athletes may also receive free product for endorsing that product or get paid for autographs.
Websites that post student athletes seeking NILs are often included or linked to college website such as opendorse. USD calls that linked page The Den.
The dollar amounts listed for student athletes are the market value, Oyen said.
Market values are based on location and other factors.
“If a student athlete is very active on social media or has a lot of Instagram followers…,” there market value can increase, Oyen said.
The general rules for NIL contracts with college athletes are set by the NCAA. Those include no endorsements for alcohol, banned substances and similar. From there, states, regent boards and local institutions can set additional guidelines in policies.
Wear the uniform or not?
Policy rules on whether or not the athlete can wear team logo clothing such as jerseys or identify themselves as J. Athlete, a sport player from X institution.
Student athletes from NSU can wear logo clothing and identify as a player from NSU, Davis said.
“If I’m a business owner I want the athlete, the draw, the connection is the student from Northern State,” Davis said. The identification and logo clothing “Makes the connection stronger,” Davis said.
Student athletes can’t use USD images or logos, clothing and similar for their NIL contracts, Oyen said. They can’t show up at a restaurant representing USD, Oyen said.
Instead, they represent themselves as a student athlete, as an individual, and not as a student athlete at USD, Oyen said.
Policy status and what about high school?
The state does not have an NIL policy or regulation. The South Dakota Board of Regents has guidelines and institutions work with that. But they can also develop their own policies.
USD’s policy and work applies when the student athlete enrolls on campus.
“Typically, it’s once they enroll, because before that they may be a high school student that’s under high school league rules or their own state law depending on how name image and likeness is handled,” Oyen said. “Until they enroll at our institution they need to follow whatever guidance is under the state they that live or the state governing body they are under.”
USD’s policy has been in place for roughly a year. USD worked with opendorse which recently launched an NIL website page. The page includes photos and information of student athletes who want to pursue NIL opportunities.
NSU has a policy but is working to develop a more formal structure including working with companies such as opendorse.
The South Dakota State High School Activities Association (SDHSAA) has had a student athlete policy related to endorsement since the 1980s. It is working on an update of that policy, said Dan Swartos, the executive director of the SDHSAA.
“Part of the reason for it back in the day was to protect kids from violating their collegiate eligibility,” Swartos said.
But the NIL has changed the playing field.
SDHSAA is reviewing the policy including the definition of student athlete as it fits within the ability to monetize the athlete’s NIL. Student athletes cannot make money as an athlete but a high school jazz band guitarist can make money playing with bands on the weekend, Swartos said. How does that scenario fit in today’s world and NIL? Swartos said.
The goal is also to make sure that any contract does not reward the student athlete for any type of play such as money for scoring X amount of points or the team winning games, Swartos said,
As to whether or not a high school athlete can sign an endorsement, it’s a yes and no answer, Swartos said. The key is how “a student athlete making money as an athlete” is interpreted, Swartos said.
USD and NSU’s approach differs, partly because of the size of the institutions.
NSU is a Division II school and NIL wasn’t a big topic of interest last year, Davis said. Also, NSU was in transition between athletic directors in 2021 and Davis started in April of 2022.
There were a few athletes who had NIL contracts last year but none so far this year, Davis said.
Oyen said about 1/4 of USD’s student athletes are involved with NIL.
USD’s legal counsel worked with the legal counsel at South Dakota State University to develop an NIL policy that was similar for each university, Oyen said. As the two NCAA Division I universities in the state, it made sense to work together, she said.
“I thought they did a great job of coming out with something we could work with and that students can understand,” Oyen said.
Enforcement of policies, in general, is on a case by case basis, Oyen and Davis said.
If athlete refuses to comply at USD, there will be consequences, Oyen said.
No drink named and read the fine print
Oyen and Swartos said the approach at their universities is to help students navigate NIL.
USD and NSU officials can’t negotiate contracts for the student athlete but they can help them understand the process.
“We try to educate them on what’s a good deal and what’s not a good deal,” Davis said. “We want them to read the fine print and understand what they are signing.”
“We make sure we educate our student athletes. We want to make sure our student athletes are well informed before they get too far down the road with an opportunity or deal…,” Oyen said.
The fine print of a contract can include “in perpetuity” for example, and Oyen said she’s had to explain that phrase means that the athletes NIL can be used forever by the company or business.
Education can also include reminding athletes that no alcohol means they can’t have an alcoholic drink named after them at a bar, Oyen said.
Ultimately it is up to the student athlete to make sure they negotiate a contract that is beneficial to them, Oyen and Davis said.
One benefit of NIL is that student athletes learn negotiating skills, they said.
Another is the chance to apply entrepreneurial skills to NIL opportunities.
Davis said in his personal, an non-AD opinion, student athletes can financially gain with new opportunities. He’s pleased this generation of student athletes has that chance.
The downside was the too-quick pace that the NCAA rolled out NIL, Davis said. It made it more difficult for colleges to navigate, he said.
As an AD, he expects interest from student athletes and from businesses to grow at NSU. The fun and challenging part is determining how NIL will impact NSU as a Division II school in northern South Dakota.
“We’re figuring out what makes sense for us and where we are at,” Davis said.