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Changing the Game for College Athletes


We are nearing the end of March, and as a result, the end of March Madness.

For those who don’t follow college sports closely, March Madness refers to the annual NCAA basketball tournament for both men and women’s teams. It is a single-elimination tournament where teams attempt to win a national championship by continuing to win games three weekends in a row.

At the time of posting, both the women and the men’s teams are down to the final four. The semifinals are slated for Friday April 1st for the women and Saturday April 2nd for the men. Then finals will be held on Sunday April 3rd for the women and the men will play on Monday April 4th.

March Madness is always an exciting time for college athletes and their fans. What makes the 2021-2022 year different, however, is that it’s the first season with new NIL rules for college athletes. NIL stands for Name, Image, and Likeness. This past summer, the NCAA made a rule change that now allows students to profit from their name, image, and likeness.

This was a game-changing moment for young athletes as they now own and can earn money with their personal brand.

As one can expect, this leads to a huge opportunity for student athletes both to build their brand and earn income while in college. This can include sponsorships, partnerships, and promotional deals allowing athletes to be compensated (with either money or in-kind) during their time in school. Another benefit for athletes is the networking opportunities that can lead to long term partnerships lasting far longer than four years of undergrad. It also gives financial freedom and independence to these student-athletes, preparing them for post-graduation.

So don’t be surprised if you see the stars of March Madness popping up in day-to-day advertisements. And don’t be afraid to get involved yourself. As college athletics can be appreciated both on a local and national level, businesses of all sizes can benefit.

As a business, you can make an offer to any qualifying athlete. While businesses can contact athletes directly, the most common approach is to use a NIL deal-making platform. An example of which is Dreamfield. Dreamfield acts as a liaison between the athlete and the business to complete offers and reports of the deal.

Rutgers University basketball guard, Geo Baker, is an outspoken supporter of NIL rules and has been for years. He highlights some of the long-term benefits by saying “No athlete wants to hear it, but eventually, the ball is going to stop bouncing. And now you’re getting these professional opportunities where you’re getting in front of real businesses and you’re learning how to operate. This is the time where we get to take risks. This is the time where athletes get to be entrepreneurs.”

And while Baker is correct that the time on the court won’t last forever, the networking done while in college can.

Let’s keep the ball bouncing for these athletes.

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