College football, women’s basketball players land most endorsements

The revenue floodgates started to swing open for college athletes last summer when the NCAA began to let student athletes profit off theirname, image and likeness (NIL) — and some of the biggest winners, as expected, are college football players.

An estimated 47.1% of NIL deals so far belong to football players, according to six months of data collected by Opendorse, a software company that provides a platform for athletes and their endorsement deals.

Women’s basketball, with 27.3% of NIL deals, ranks second. Men’s basketball is next, with 15.6% of the deals.

The remaining NIL deals are divided among women’s volleyball (2.4%), baseball (1.1%), men’s track and field (0.7%), women’s gymnastics (0.6%), women’s track and field (0.6%), women’s swimming and diving ( 0.5%) and softball (0.4%).

Haley (in orange shoes) and Hanna Cavinder are star basketball players for Fresno State University, and they have cashed in with the NCAA's new NIL policy as they have sponsorship deals with the WWE and several other businesses.

This data is based off transactions facilitated by Opendorse Desk — so it does not provide a complete picture and doesn’t account for the nuances that vary by sport. However, it does provide an early snapshot of how — and which — student athletes will benefit from the new policy..

Women athletes seem to be relatively big winners — a sharp contrast from early criticisms that allowing athletes to profit from endorsements would further widen the gap between male and female athletes.

One of the biggest examples to contradict that claim is Paige Bueckers, the star University of Connecticut guard who signed two major endorsement deals, including with Gatorade. She also signed a deal with StockX, an online marketplace and clothing reseller. Bueckers is on track to make her return to the court after being out for two months following knee surgery in December.

Connecticut guard Paige Bueckers plays against Butler during the first quarter of an NCAA college basketball game in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb.  27, 2021.

Just one day before the NIL era began, Rutgers Athletics announced the launch of R Edge, an educational platform powered by Opendorse Ready. The platform aimed to assist Scarlet Knights student-athletes with the management and development of their NIL deals.

“The R Edge program is a major step in helping our student-athletes maximize their potential,” said Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs in a statement at the time. “We make every effort to prepare our student-athletes for success in the classroom and in competition. In this fast-changing landscape, we also want to do everything we can to prepare them to take advantage of these new opportunities.”

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