You are here

Navigating NIL and social media for college athletes

BLUFFTON, Ohio—Bluffton University’s Virtue-Driven Athletics program welcomed Dr. Scott Grant, a personal branding and leadership development expert, to campus to help Bluffton student-athletes navigate two hot-button issues in college athletics—name, image, likeness (NIL) deals and social media use.

While NIL deals are most commonly signed by elite athletes playing on Division 1 athletic teams, Grant outlined a few imaginative ways student-athletes across the country have secured deals. For example, Iowa State football student-athletes with the last names Purchase, Moore, Hamann and Bacon partnered with the Iowa Pork Producers Association for a fun advertisement.

While a deal may sound great, Grant cautioned students to do their due diligence before signing since these paid endorsements require time and business acumen.

“It’s such a growing phenomenon in college athletics, but there are regulations sometimes the students just don’t understand,” explained Grant.

Lesser-known points Grant encouraged students to watch out for ranged from the impact of making large sums of money on financial aid to recognizing that “free” sweatshirts or sneakers included in a deal are also taxable income.

Since nearly all NIL deals include social media, Grant also encouraged students to share their brand, personality and values online by being thoughtful and creating a plan.

“Social media can be one of the most powerful tools people have at their disposal, but it is also one that most people don’t utilize to its fullest potential,” explained Grant. “People often forget it’s like a front porch of a house. You look at what a house looks like from the outside and form an impression. It’s the same for social media. So, employers are taking whatever they’re saying on social media as who they are, what they are about, what they value, what they like, and that’s before they even have a conversation.”

Bluffton’s Virtue-Driven Athletics program develops young people of character through the experience and process of collegiate athletics. Special events focused on student-athletes are held throughout the year such as Athletics Community Day of Service, High-Five Fridays with Bluffton Elementary School and Adopt-a-Family with Allen County Children Services. Previous VDA speakers include Jimmy Burrow, vice president of The Joe Burrow Foundation, and Dan Hughes, retired WNBA and Olympic champion coach.

In March, a Virtue-Driven Athletics event will address issues surrounding sports gambling and betting.