INDIANAPOLIS — Since July first collegiate student-athletes have been able to profit off their names, images and likenesses for the first time, legally, in the history of college sports.
With the first week of college football come and gone, some players are starting to cash in on NIL.
Thanks to the NCAA, players like Purdue wide receiver David Bell can now profit off the sale of merchandise bearing his name, image, or likeness. Bell is one of 17 other collegiate student-athletes in the Hoosier state to sign licensing contracts with the Indy-based clothing store, The Shop.
“We’ve seen a big uptick in sales if a guy like that has a good game,” Co-Owner of The Shop Alex Janeczek said. “Like anything… if the team’s doing well, then shirts gonna sell – merchandise is gonna sell.”
T-shirts and stickers bearing the athlete’s names, image, and sometimes caricature style likeness are flying off the shelves of The Shop since the college football season began. They’ve penned contracts with not only football players but basketball and running athletes too from Ball State, IU, Purdue, and even the University of Oregon.
“It’s really cool for these kids, you know, 20 years ago I might’ve said differently… said hey, you know you’re on scholarship, that’s enough but from what college basketball, college football, college athletics in general, the machine it’s become… why not let these guys and girls, some of them, their window’s small, to make money off their athletic career… they’re not gonna all go to the NFL or NBA. So why not let these guys profit,” Janeczek said. “It’s a great learning experience for them. It’s hands-on experience. and you know we’re supposed – college is supposed to prepare these guys, and girls, for the next level of their life… you know kinda making a career for themselves, and if you’re an athlete, and you want build a brand this is part of it. The merchandising aspects so I think it’s a great opportunity.”
An opportunity Purdue University fully supports. Earlier this month, the university partnered with Altius Sports Partners to help teach student-athletes and staff how to best develop and manage NIL opportunities moving forward.
Even offering classes for athletes which will count as credits towards graduation.
“With this opportunity for our student-athletes to now monetize and use their name, image, and likeness for a multitude of different ways, we provide them with formal education, training, best practices, things that will make them successful in this new environment. Purdue student-athletes with name, image, and likeness will gain unbelievable hands-on experience, whether for those that will play professional sports but those that will start their own business, that will be a business leader, community leader,” Purdue Chief Revenue Officer Tom Moreland said. “They’re gonna take all these skills they’ll learn here at Purdue, just like the rest of their coursework and what they learned from being a college athlete and carry on that for the rest of their life.”
Lives are undoubtedly changed by a steady stream of checks coming in the mail.
“They get a check every month… it’s nice for them. Very little work involved on their end, and they get input on the design and we handle the hard stuff,” Janeczk said. “We send out checks monthly so… we already sent out checks for July for a lot of these athletes and some of them are pretty good-sized checks.”
Whether these t-shirts and stickers will play a part in the changing atmosphere of collegiate sport remains unclear, but they are already making a statement.
“I think there’s some concern that there might be jealousy of one student athlete’s benefitting from it and another one’s not… but that is a really good, real-world life example,” Moreland said. “That’s just sometimes how things work – but maybe it’ll motivate you more. You’re not gonna be successful in life constantly comparing yourself to others, or feeling bad about yourself, right? You gotta move on. You gotta improve and you gotta be the best version of yourself and if you want to aspire to have those kinds of opportunities you need to do those types of things.”
The Shop could not disclose how many student-athletes they’ve contracted with are making but said their deals are based on straight percentages of sales for each individual item their name, image, or likeness is featured on.