Rather than exclusively seeking individual sponsorship deals, Adidas announced on Wednesday that it would create a Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) network allowing up to 50,000 college athletes to become paid endorsers for the brand. .
Adidas hasn’t specified how much college athletes will be paid, but the program will be open to college athletes at 109 Division 1 schools. Adidas says the program will be a “broad and equitable network” and will run over the next 12 month.
Opening the floodgates to tens of thousands of student athletes, Adidas’ systematic approach could make it an attractive option for college players looking for endorsement deals. This could help Adidas get a leg up on competitors, who so far have entered the court mostly with a “tap an athlete on the shoulder” approach.
College athletics brings in billions of dollars through ticket and merchandise sales, as well as lucrative TV deals for high-profile sports like football and basketball.
But the NCAA has long argued that restrictions on student-athletes are necessary to ensure they maintain their amateur status and don’t blur the line between college and professional sports.
Student supporters say players have been exploited and denied the opportunity to monetize their talents.
The Supreme Court ruled last year in a unanimous decision against NCAA restrictions on education benefits for student athletes.
“Nowhere else in America can corporations get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate. “wrote Judge Brett Kavanaugh in a concurring opinion. “And by ordinary principles of antitrust law, it’s not obvious that college sports are any different.”
Several bills have been introduced in Congress since 2019 to address compensation for college athletes. States have also enacted nil-related laws.