NIL in 2022: My Ten Predictions For Where It's Headed
Some changes we'll see and where the industry going. Name, image, and likeness in 2022.
NIL is coming up on its 6-month anniversary of being live across the college landscape.
The industry is growing at a nice path and is on its way to a billion dollars - many are estimating it will reach within a few years.
It’s great to see “amateur” athletes finally being rewarded legally. I think we can all agree it was long overdue.
Here are my predictions for NIL in 2022:
Collectives will be at nearly all power 5 schools.
The Gator Collective started this movement and is the most successful to date.
1,300+ members in under 4 months.
Since their arrival, dozens of other alumni at schools including Oregon and UNC have started their own collectives.
In 2022, I expect every nearly power 5 school to have its own version of this.
It’s a great way to support the athletes and encourage future recruits, while also involving the fans.
As young alumni myself, $20/month going directly towards helping players is more reasonable than a large donation to the athletic department.
More High School NIL Deals
At the time of this writing, 5 high school athletes have signed NIL deals.
By the end of 2022, I would expect this number to be 10x, especially as more states allow high school athletes to capitalize on their name, image, and likeness.
Currently, these are the only states allowing them:
There will be a lot more green on this graph by the end of next year.
Brands also understand the value of capturing athletes at a younger age.
There’s a reason Puma signed a massive deal with high school basketball star Mikey Williams. They’re betting on the fact he will become a superstar.
More Players Using Eligibility
Some players are set to make more money from NIL than they ever will in the pros.
This is especially true for many women athletes (but also for men’s football and basketball players).
I expect to see some players pass up the draft to rake in the NIL cash.
First Lawsuits Around NIL
Mistakes are bound to happen with companies dropping large sums on deals, athletes not reviewing the fine print in their contracts, and new agents entering the space.
Athletes transferring, not fulfilling their obligations, or a company going out of business before paying up are some possibilities I could foresee.
The NCAA is already sniffing around some of the schools offering deals to multiple players on a team. Maybe they make an example of a school or set a standard, but they won’t just sit back and watch next year.
I believe we’ll see some form of jurisdiction intervention in 2022.
More NFTs (athletes and brands)
I expect to see a major increase in athletes selling their own NFTs.
It’s a great way for athletes to monetize their time, support a cause, and build fan engagement.
Shareef O’Neal had a very successful drop at the beginning of December. I anticipate more college athletes hopping on this gold rush.
Schools might even try to get involved for extra revenue or to help the players through some sort of partnership. 3rd-party platforms will be built to assist schools in this.
NFTs as admission tickets will be big in the near future, but probably not in 2022.
Every Major Brand Will Get Involved
In the first 6 months, many big brands took a backseat and waited for the dust to settle.
Rightfully so, as there were many successful deals, but also a handful of ones that didn’t pan out - Spencer Rattler, D’eriq King, Quinn Ewers for example.
Several of the big brands including Gatorade and Nike didn’t get involved until December.
In 2022, expect to see every major brand allocate some budget towards NIL deals.
There are now enough case studies of what works well and what doesn’t.
At AIR, we plan on spending over 7 figures a year in NIL deals (possibly even in 2022).
Legal Paying Loopholes Will Continue
Every offensive lineman at the University of Texas will receive $50,000 in 2022 through an alumni initiative where they will support a charity cause.
Built-in through collectives (or separately) I expect to see more deals like this next year.
Although it could be deemed as an incentive of pay-to-play, which is illegal, more teams will likely hop on board.
It’s a huge recruiting advantage.
For example, UT football received over $40M in donations last year.
Some donors are seeing the advantage of putting some of that money towards the players, instead of the school.
More “First of the First” NIL Deals
NIL is still very new in the grand scheme of things.
We will be seeing the “first” of many new types of NIL deals.
Whether it’s the first high school soccer player or the first team-wide high school deal, I anticipate reporting on many of these in 2022.
NIL Marketplace Consolidation
Right now there are over 20+ NIL marketplaces.
I expect to see this number drastically drop in 2022.
Some will close shop. Some will merge through an acquisition or partnership.
And I expect to see a major player(s) take shape.
By the end of 2022, we’ll have a much better grip on what marketplace(s) are here to stay.
International Legalization of NIL
Foreign athletes in the United States are currently not allowed to sign NIL deals at the risk of losing their Visas.
I anticipate athletes finding loopholes in 2022 and a push for national legislation (although that probably won’t happen for a few years).
The international market is ripe with talented players who have a story to tell. Many of them are great candidates for NIL deals.
Some of this I’ll be right on - some of it I’ll be wrong on.
Anyway, I’m excited to see where the NIL industry goes in the next year.
Thanks for reading and strap up for a great year ahead. It’s going to be your best one yet!