By Aristides Costeas
The newly established NIL regulations for NCAA collegiate student-athletes, regarding partnerships and sponsorships have brought upon us exciting times for current and aspiring collegiate student-athletes, due to the wide range of opportunities opening up. However, one must be careful which partners or sponsors they choose to represent and be affiliated with, since this can greatly affect their professional profile and image, potentially following them for years thereafter, even after their athletic career comes to an end.
Choosing partners and sponsors wisely is crucial in enhancing the professional image and reputation of the collegiate student-athlete, whilst benefiting them financially. Athletes should keep in mind that there is life after sports, therefore, picking partners and sponsors must be done strategically to make the most out of the NIL benefits. The bigger the fanbase and the greater the outreach, the more the financial benefits will be. Collegiate student-athletes need to pick partners and sponsors that match their athletic outlook and are in line with their values, ideals and principles. The message they are passing to the general public through what they are promoting to them is one they should be able to stand behind. Remember that building a brand can take years, but one wrong move can destroy it in an instant.
The wrong choice of partners and sponsors may damage one’s professional image and may hinder both their athletic and professional success. It goes without saying that collegiate student-athletes must avoid at all costs affiliating with products that are prohibited by NCAA regulations and are not appropriate for the image of an athlete, such as alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Affiliating with the wrong partners and sponsors will not only damage the image of a collegiate student-athlete but can also jeopardize their NCAA eligibility and lead to the loss of their privilege to participate in any collegiate athletic and/or academic events.
Furthermore, collegiate student athletes should try to pick partners and sponsors who they feel they can trust and with whom they can have an open, two-way communication. These will help form the basis of a long-lasting relationship, that is beneficial to them both and which complements the athlete’s professional career.
Athletes should also ensure that they have the right advisors to guide and support them before making any decision. They need to know what they are getting into, and always read the fine print before committing to a partnership or sponsorship. Carefully assessing and evaluating what your potential sponsor represents as well as what their reputation has been over the years, through appropriate research, can prove to be very beneficial.
In conclusion, NIL partners and sponsors have recently become a huge part of collegiate sports and there are many benefits for collegiate student-athletes to take advantage of. However, every student-athlete must choose their affiliations and representations carefully and wisely to enjoy these benefits to their maximum effect, without them having any negative influences or effects on their career and image. It is therefore crucial, that every student-athlete is well informed about the new NIL rules and regulations before signing up for any sponsorship and/or partnership, to avoid potential traps that may hinder their career while making the most of the great opportunities NIL can provide.