Cover Photo: Robert Ovies
Morgantown, West Virginia – The landscape of college sports has changed with the new Name Image Likeness (NIL) rules. Student-athletes are now able to profit from their name, their image and their likeness.
On June 30, 2021, the Board of Directors approved a name, image and likeness (NIL) policy. This new policy allows all NCAA Division 1, 2 and 3 student-athletes to be compensated for their NIL, regardless of whether their state has a NIL law in place or not.
While this has benefited student-athletes around the country, many universities – like West Virginia University – have not seen the support that some other programs have.
At the University of Miami, Miami’s scholarship players can receive $500 per month to endorse American Top Team, a nationwide chain of MMA training gyms. If every player on the team chooses to endorse the gym, the total sponsorship would be approximately $540,000.
Miami’s NIL deals are nothing in comparison to a school like Texas A&M, however, who have had boosters spend a reported $30 million on the top 2022 football recruiting class. A&M’s recruiting class includes 5 five star prospects and 19 four star recruits who have committed.
How can West Virginia compete with this, particularly if local businesses are unable or unwilling to step up to support the university and its players?
Yesterday, Toothman-Ford of Grafton announced a “major deal” with freshman quarterback sensation Nicco Marchiol and another with West Virginia offensive lineman Zach Frazier earlier today.
Last month, Astorg Auto provided vehicles to basketball stars Jalen Bridges and Taz Sherman.
Oliverio’s Ristorante on the Wharf did an online promotion with former WVU football players Jarret Doege and Leddie Brown last season.
Tudor’s Biscuit World ran an online advertisement with Zach Frazier last season.
The Voice of Motown has done deals with several student-athletes on the football and basketball team.
Farah and Farah did billboard advertisements with members of the football team.
But ultimately, there just haven’t been that many truly lucrative opportunities for players to cash in on their NIL. If a top recruit is considering West Virginia and a program like Texas A&M, it just wouldn’t make any sense for the player to choose the Mountaineers. That’s a sad fact and an unfortunate reality of the current landscape of the college athletics.
While it’s unlikely that West Virginia’s donors and local businesses can compete with the very top programs in the country, there has to be a more of a concerted effort from the university to reach out and provide real, meaningful opportunities for their student-athletes.