Donors, NIL collectives grapple with recruiting success in college football

On3 image

When Marshall and UConn were selected for the Myrtle Beach Bowl, the destination marketing organization Visit Myrtle Beach offered every player on each roster an NIL deal. Visit Myrtle Beach offered each player the same compensation in exchange for a social media post while they were in Myrtle Beach.

While the NCAA’s latest NIL guidance stated that it’s impermissible for athletes to receive compensation “directly or indirectly for promoting an athletics competition in which they participate,” the destination marketing organization cleverly partnered with players from the two participating teams while they were in town.

Players arrived last Thursday before Monday’s game. They could post on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok or Twitter but the posts couldn’t be tied to the bowl game.

Visit Myrtle Beach Executive Director of Sports Tourism Jonathan Paris said each athlete could have a different experience in Myrtle Beach, which they could then share with their respective social media audiences. Paris said he believes Visit Myrtle Beach is the first destination marketing organization to offer team-wide NIL deals in association with a bowl game matchup.

“We believe that everybody belongs to the beach,” Paris said in a Zoom interview. “Whether you’re the star player with the biggest social media following or you’re a freshman walk-on, it doesn’t matter so that was really important to us all along.”

While Paris said athletes have previously contacted Visit Myrtle Beach about becoming a brand ambassador, the pair of team-wide NIL deals were the organization’s first.

Here’s how the NIL deals were executed

Paris said Visit Myrtle Beach partnered with a company called Venue Social, which helped with the execution of the agreements. Venue Social’s platform notified Visit Myrtle Beach when the participating players posted on social media, which completed their contractual deliverable, allowed players to receive payment and notified their school.

Visit Myrtle Beach is in the process of analyzing the engagement data from the posts. If there are specific social media platforms that performed better than others, then Visit Myrtle Beach could potentially push for players to post on those channels in future campaigns.

“With a lot of our social media and our digital content, especially things that are coming through with influencer and content creation, we hope we’re reaching new people that haven’t been to Myrtle Beach before and showcasing what a great destination it is,” Paris said. “The great thing with this is we also didn’t want to provide them with a lot of, ‘Hey, we want you to do this. We want you to say that. We want to you include this.’

“Because we really wanted it to be authentic to what these student-athletes’ experiences were.”

Paris said a member of Visit Myrtle Beach’s marketing department highlighted a few posts where players went to the beach, where they said their name and university for the camera and then ran into the ocean.

“It’s not that it’s freezing cold here but it’s in the fifties and the water is definitely getting colder so there was a couple of those sort of polar plunge-type videos,” Paris said, laughing.