How NIL Could Turn Ivy League Schools into Sport Powerhouses
NIL turning Ivy League Institutions into Powerhouses
In the 1920s, most of the powerhouses in college football and basketball were Ivy League schools like Princeton and Yale.
Fast forward 100 years and I could see this emerge out of the shadows again.
I know you’re probably confused about where I’m headed with this — but stay with me.
This past week I was talking with some basketball coaches in the Ivy League…
I came away with the feeling that name, image, and likeness (NIL) might have a more profound impact on college sports than any of us can imagine.
Let me explain 👇
We’ve had a lot of new readers in the past few weeks so let me quickly recap what NIL collectives are.
NIL collectives are booster and fan-funded organizations set up to raise money that is then used to legally pay college athletes (usually men’s basketball and football).
Nearly every Power 5 school has one setup.
Collectives at big state schools like UMiami, Texas A&M, and Tennessee are paying millions of dollars to the players.
They can do this because of their large fanbases, but more importantly because of mega-wealthy alumni willing to throw around millions.
But here’s what’s interesting…
Ivy League schools have some of the wealthiest alumni bases across the world (as you might imagine), yet no NIL collectives are in place.
The Ivy League Takeover
The Harvard Management Company returned 33.6 percent on its investments for the fiscal year ending in June 2021, skyrocketing the value of Harvard’s endowment to $53.2B.
Imagine if a university like Harvard put together a NIL collective 🤯
Before you say it, I know colleges can’t pay athletes themselves (at least not yet), but the endowment is to show you that Harvard and many other Ivy League schools have a lot of money.
For example, it’s been reported that Jeff Bezos is interested in buying a professional sports team — this would cost him several billion.
What if instead, he created a NIL collective at his alma mater Princeton University and promised $20M a year for the sports teams?
It would flip college athletics on its head.
Imagine the executive team of a NIL collective at Harvard — which has 29 total billionaires and some high-level pro athletes:
Mike Bloomberg: CEO Bloomberg ($82B)
Steve Ballmer: Clippers Owner ($88B)
Ryan Fitzpartrick: NFL QB ($30M)
Jeremy Lin: NBA Guard ($36M)
This alone would attract all of the top STUDENT-athletes.
A True Landscape Shifter
To begin with, Ivy League schools don’t offer athletic scholarships — so at the bare minimum, a NIL collective could help provide funding to the players.
The cost before aid at Princeton is $74,190.
$5.6M would fund full-ride scholarships for the entire men’s football and basketball teams.
That in itself would attract better talent — as it allows the coaches to broaden their search and not worry if players are financially capable of attending.
Ivy Leagues don't offer athletic scholarships because they want to keep academics at the forefront.
But hear me it out…
Imagine if Princeton basketball received an additional $1M/year from a NIL collective to go out and get 2-3 of the top players in the country.
They would take over the Ivy League, have the chance to compete for a March Madness title, and force other schools such as Dartmouth and UPenn to raise similar money or get left behind.
As a by-product, this would substantially raise the level of competition in the Ivy League and better spread out the talent pool across college basketball.
It wouldn’t be all smooth sailing as internally things would have to be worked out such as player/coach relations, but in theory, the model would work.
By only paying 2-3 players, the schools would be able to keep the academic-first mindset, and the full athletic scholarships would attract the perfect compliments to those players getting NIL payments.
A few years ago, 5-star recruit and now NBA player Wendell Carter Jr. chose Duke over Harvard.
His decision might have been different in the NIL world…
The ability to get paid while receiving an education from Harvard and also competing for championships would be very enticing.
On top of that, the players making money from NIL at an Ivy League institution would have good circles around them to help manage and grow their cash.
I know I threw a lot at you…
Let me summarize it real quick.
Name, image, and likeness (NIL) has allowed college athletes to profit for the first time in the history of amateur sports.
Wealthy boosters have formed NIL collectives at the major state schools to make sure the players of revenue-generating sports such as men’s football and basketball get paid.
Ivy League schools don’t offer athletic scholarships, but consistently attract talented players because of what they can offer post-graduation.
There aren’t any NIL collectives at Ivy League institutions, but they have some of the wealthiest alumni bases in the world that wouldn’t bat an eye at $20M/year.
If Ivy League schools form NIL collectives — they would have options such as providing full athletic scholarships and even paying the players.
This could change college sports forever, as players would be getting the ultimate student-athlete experience:
Paid to play
Full athletic scholarship
Education at a top-tier institution
At this point…
I’m just patiently waiting for an Ivy League school (or even better Boston University) to launch into the NIL game with a collective formed by wealthy boosters — it’s not like they don’t have a bunch of big-wig alums.
Thanks for reading today!
Let’s get after it this week.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” - Arthur Ashe
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So much opportunity for NIL in the Ivy League - will be super interesting to see if it happens.