MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The college sports world changed this summer to allow athletes to make money from endorsements, sponsorships and other business opportunities.
Athletes can now profit off of their name, image and likeness (NIL).
At the University of Minnesota, 80 Golden Gophers in 18 sports have disclosed about 150 NIL deals to the school.
Parker Fox, a men’s basketball player, has taken advantage of several opportunities, including signing up for Cameo, a company that allows customers to buy personalized videos from celebrities.
He charges $10 per video.
Fox has also modeled for a clothing brand, promoted a book, and local and national companies pay him for sponsored social media posts.
“You’re making, whatever it is, a couple hundred dollars a post, here and there, but then there are some bigger sort of deals where they want to sign you into a contract, get you for a longer period of time,” Fox said.
Mike Wierzbicki, a senior associate athletic director for the University of Minnesota, says Gophers have profited off equipment-related opportunities, speaking engagements and autograph sessions.
“It’s kind of been a whirlwind from July 1 [when NIL deals began] to now in November,” he said. “Where you can grow a brand and have a voice, there’s value there.”
WCCO examined the public data available on all the NIL deals Gophers athletes had disclosed through Oct. 28.
About a third of the deals came from the football team.
One player was paid $2,000 for a two-hour autograph session. Another deal was a $5,000 agreement to sign 1,000 trading cards.
Quarterback Tanner Morgan and some teammates did a signing event this year at Baldy’s BBQ in Lakeville.
Athletes in other sports have made notable deals too.
A men’s basketball player is making $6,000 to wrap his car in a decal for 10 weeks.
Three TikTok videos earned a women’s hockey player $850.
A men’s track and field athlete did some modeling for $300.
“Your value is what the market says your value is,” Wierzbicki said.
Some of the deals with the highest values came from the wrestling team. A wrestler participated in a $13,000 meet-and-greet.
Another agreement with a wrestler was for social media posts worth more than $1,000 a month.
Gable Steveson is coming off an Olympic gold medal, and NIL has allowed him to sign a contract with WWE pro wrestling while staying in school to graduate and chase another NCAA title.
“We get a scholarship to a university and that’s all fantastic, but going that extra mile is something fun for us as athletes that we get to be a part of,” Fox said.
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