As you know, the NCAA has ruled that student-athletes will be able to profit off their names, images and likenesses (NIL) as soon as a uniform policy can be developed, which might be as soon as January 2021. Obviously, it’s a radical change, and one we’ve already dealt with to some degree (here and here).

The move was met with alarm by most people in the college football community that we spoke to, but we decided to get a different perspective. So we decided to reach out to people who work with NFL players on the marketing side. Would this be as big as some think it will be?

We asked: Let’s say the NIL rule came into effect this January, and you’re representing Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence. Who’s your first call? What’s your first move? What does the market look like?

Here’s what we were told.

  • “A lot of it would deal with what Trevor was interested in doing. People have this idea that there’s gonna be this overabundance of money going to these kids, and I think it’s gonna temper things. It will be interesting to see. These universities, I feel like, when the rule goes into effect, will be a huge push with their third parties (IMG College, Learfield  Sports, etc.). IMG is the go-between with corporate sponsors, so they’re gonna tell these players, ‘you need to work with IMG. IMG is gonna bring you all these opportunities,’ which I think for a lot of kids make sense. For the vast majority, it will make sense, but for a guy like Trevor Lawrence, really, his competition is the school, from a marketing standpoint. A guy like Trevor Lawrence, his marketability extends beyond what Clemson is providing. He would need to go outside the Learfield/IMG model and have his own representation that looks out for his interest. . . The shoe companies will be in a predicament. Adidas is gonna want to sign a Trevor Lawrence, but Trevor may not be able to wear Adidas cleats on the field. Where (the shoe companies) will run into trouble is, all the schools that Adidas has a deal with, the schools will want the shoe companies to spend their money with their top guys. . . Would definitely limit his exposure, where he’s on TV and print media. initially it’s a bad look if he’s plastered everywhere, and I think most guys aren’t gonna want that. Maximize your value, minimize your time commitment. Some guys are as big in college as they’ll ever be. Maybe a (Oklahoma QB) Jalen Hurts is a little different. Really don’t know what kind of NFL prospect he’s gonna be, so you capitalize on his marketability now.”
  • “First move, contact my most deep-pocketed financial advisors and partner with them to come up with a very large marketing guarantee for someone the stature of Lawrence. Let’s call it $10M up front. Obviously the player doesn’t collect on the marketing deals until the $10M is recouped. Next, I negotiate multi-year deals with all the major apparel and trading card companies. After that, I reach out to up-and -coming companies in various business segments and try to acquire equity stakes in those companies for my client. Smaller upfront payout to my client, but fair-sized equity stake in that company. Lastly, I reach out to various Hollywood agencies such as WMA/Endeavor, ICM and CAA and gauge their interest in co-repping my client for any opportunities in the movie/TV world.”
  • “Shoe and apparel, then beverage, then local memorabilia. Then regional car dealership. Also, probably the opposite brand from who the school is in bed with. It would benefit the shoe company to have one person on the team to wear something completely different.”

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