Athletes take advantage of NIL deals

By David Wilson


Jamie Stark has always dreamed of playing college soccer. Never in her wildest dreams did she think she would be able to profit off her athletic ability. 

Stark, a member of the Trevecca women’s soccer team, is one of the few student-athletes on campus with an NIL deal. This is an agreement allowing athletes to market their name, image and likeness.

“It’s so exciting. There are a lot of new brands and entrepreneurs looking to start new businesses. [NIL] is not just for the athletes with a million followers on Instagram. It has been fun to show that the little guys can do it too,” said Stark.

Stark is a member of the Joro Athlete Ambassador Program, which is a plant-based protein supplement store.

“Going into my freshman year, I decided to go vegan. I am really into new, plant-based products,” said Stark. “The company expects me to make a couple of posts [on social media] here and there. I have a promo code that gives me a discount and then a promo code for anyone that wants to buy it.”

Customers receive anywhere from 10 percent to 15 percent off when using Stark’s promo code, and she receives a stipend of the purchase in return. 

“[We] probably have around 5 percent of our athletes with NIL deals. Most are social media posts in exchange for merchandise—very few cash deals. Our job is to allow the athletes to pursue their own NIL deals and then to educate them on their financial responsibility,” said Mark Elliott, Trevecca’s athletic director. 

On July 1, 2021, the Division I Board of Directors approved the NIL to allow DI, DII, and DIII athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness. 

The ruling allowed athletes across the country to benefit off their name, even if their state did not have a NIL law in place. 

“The NCAA has made it clear that universities cannot seek specific deals, help provide graphics and content for NIL deals, or help student-athletes file their taxes, unless that service is offered to every student on campus,” said Elliott. 

Kennedy Mullins, the first Trevecca athlete to secure a NIL deal with Rick & Bubba Radio show in 2021 – Photo courtesy of The Tennessean

Kennedy Mullins, a former Trevecca women’s soccer player, was the first Trevecca student-athlete to sign a NIL in July of 2021. 

Mullins signed with the Rick and Bubba Show and received $100 in cash and a spatula for posting on Instagram and Facebook once a week. 

The Trevecca athletic department has rules for its student athletes to follow when it comes to accepting NIL deals. 

“As an athletic department we are responsible for providing education regarding NIL for all our student-athletes, which we do as part of our beginning of the year compliance meetings,” said 

Trevecca Compliance Officer Brady Ray. It is important that student-athletes understand laws regarding NIL as well as Trevecca’s limitations on NIL deals”.

Some of those limitations include no partnerships with any alcoholic beverage company or brand, adult entertainment businesses, a tobacco company or brand, and several others.

Student-athletes were made aware that any money gained from an NIL deal would be considered taxable income. 

“Our athletic department wanted to emphasize that we are still holding on to our motto of being Christian, scholar athletes. That motto is important to our school and what we represent as a university. Mark Elliott was respectful in his delivery and just wanted to outline things we can and cannot do,” said Stark.

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