NCAA student-athletes are the latest commodity in influencer marketing

And marketers are racing to the finish line to partner with the hottest student-athletes

2 min readJul 15, 2021

Written by Annette Perfetti, Director of Influencer Marketing at Mekanism

Your favorite college athlete is coming to a monetized (insert channel here) near you!

There are roughly 460k student-athletes in the NCAA. And with the Supreme Court siding with former college students in a dispute with the NCAA about compensation, influencer marketing just got a whole new pool of talent to choose from!

Preserving amateurism [aka withholding compensation] is now a thing of the past. And in this new phase of college athletics, all types of athletes will be able to monetize their NIL (name, image, likeness) — influencer style. Whether they’re at the top of their conference, or frankly, not interested in sports outside of college athletics, these folks will be able to secure income for their future as going pro is less than 2% of student-athletes according to the #NCAA.

And don’t think monetization hasn’t been on their mind for quite some time. Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling, the Cavinder Twins were among the first to sign a deal with Boost Mobile, making collegiate NIL history. Additionally, Arkansas wide receiver Trey Knox, and proud dog dad to a husky named Blue, landed a deal with PetSmart.

In addition to partnerships, student-athletes will lean into their personal brands, mainly built on social media. For example, Marshall offensive lineman Will Ulmer is using the new NIL rules to help kick off his music career. Give him a follow, ya’ll!

So get ready to see your favorite college athlete munching on your favorite brand of cereal or wearing your preferred brand of clothing. I mean, more reason to stay a brand superfan, am I right? Overall, the shift is exciting and opens a new pool of influencers for marketers to form meaningful partnerships and consumer connections.

This post originally appeared on Linkedin.




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