Survey: 28% of DI athletes say their head coach has promoted NIL

On3 imageby:Andy Wittry01/03/23


When the NCAA released in October its latest NIL guidance, it explicitly allowed institutions and their employees to request that donors provide funds to NIL collectives. It also clarified that it’s permissible for school employees to assist collectives in raising money through public appearances or by providing autographed memorabilia.

Many coaches have embraced the latest guidance. In one example, Indiana women’s basketball coach Teri Moren wore a custom sweatshirt featuring guard Grace Berger‘s name and likeness during a primetime game against North Carolina, when Berger was sidelined with an injury.

However, many athletes say their head coach hasn’t publicly promoted their NIL efforts or that they’re unsure if their coach has.

In late December, Bill Carter of Student-Athlete Insights conducted a survey on behalf of On3 that received responses from 1,050 current Division I athletes. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said their head coach has publicly promoted NIL or one or more collectives.

Twenty percent of respondents said they didn’t know if their head coach has. Fifty-two percent said their head coach hasn’t.

Boise State’s football handbook shows one approach to support

At the inaugural NIL Summit, where hundreds of athletes plus athletic department staffers, attorneys and brand reps gathered in Atlanta, Boise State received the award for the Best Institutional Program.

It makes sense then that in Boise State’s football team handbook for the 2022 season, which established rules and expectations for players, it also recommended that players avoid settling for free food or clothing as compensation in NIL deals.

“With NIL now permitted across the nation, we encourage you to think creatively when someone approaches you to offer you free or reduced goods or services,” stated the team handbook, which On3 obtained through a public records request. “While you cannot receive extra benefits, you can likely structure anything to fit within NIL. Violations should not occur where while you have the ability to profit from you NIL (sic).

“Similarly, you should recognize the value of your personal brand and not sell yourself short for a free meal or free piece of clothing. Find out what is important to you and begin to build your personal brand.”

In more than three dozen team handbooks reviewed by On3 across numerous schools and athletic programs, Boise State football was the only program whose handbook offered this type of specific advice for how players should approach NIL.

Several programs or athletic departments still tell their athletes to keep their social media accounts private. That shows a potential disconnect given that the majority of NIL activities involve posting on social media. Compensation is often tied to follower counts and engagement rates.

Athletes share how coaches impact NIL, how NIL impacts coaches

What’s the potential impact of a head coach outwardly supporting his or her players’ NIL opportunities?

Seventy-eight percent of the respondents to Carter’s December survey said they believe their head coach publicly promoting NIL to fans and donors would improve their opportunities.

While 28 percent of respondents said their head coach has publicly supported NIL or their school’s associated collective(s), an even higher percentage of athletes said their head coach has cited NIL as a reason for a poor performance by an individual athlete or the team.

Thirty-four percent of respondents said their head coach has attributed NIL as a reason for an individual or the team’s poor performance.

Carter told On3 in an email that he asked a similar survey question about a year ago.

The last time he asked the question, only 17 percent of respondents said their head coach had mentioned NIL as a reason for poor performance. The percent of positive respondents to the question has doubled in the last year.