Before the summer of 2021, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) did not permit college athletes to make money from advertisements, commercials, and products. However, this changed when the U.S. Supreme Court made a unanimous decision in NCAA v. Alston, which made it so that the NCAA could not limit the compensation received by college athletes from deals or advertisements. This ruling made it so college athletes can now profit off of their “name, image, and likeness”—also known as NIL.

The ruling has had a substantial impact on many big-name college athletes who would have been making money off of commercials, shoes, and products, but could not because of NCAA restrictions. For example, University of Southern California (USC) basketball player Bronny James, son of LeBron James, has benefited tremendously from the recent NIL rule change. After the ruling, Bronny James has already signed paid deals with companies such as Nike, Beats by Dre, and PSD Underwear. From these deals, James is said to have already earned around $5.9 million. im

Shedeur Sanders, quarterback for the University of Colorado, is another example of a college athlete who has benefited from NIL deals since the rule change. Sanders received nearly $5 million from deals with companies such as Under Armour, Gatorade, and Beats by Dre. However, deals are not the only ways in which college athletes can make money from their NIL.

Collectives, which are companies made by fans or alumni of a certain college, also play a major role in college athletes’ income. Their sole purpose is to collect money from fans and viewers of the college in order to pay the athletes. However, collectives are not run by the college or organization themselves but help manage deals associated with NIL among college athletes.

Boosters are another factor that affects income in college sports. According to the NCAA, the term “booster” refers to any “representatives of the institution’s athletic interests,” which include donors, or anyone who is a member of a program that supports the college’s athletic programs. Boosters affecting recruiting high school athletes to college programs have always been strongly prohibited by the NCAA.

With the recent change in NCAA rules including NIL, many college athletes throughout the U.S. are impacted positively. Athletes like Bronny James and Shedeur Sanders are receiving checks in the millions and many other college athletes are being paid substantial amounts of money. Recent studies have shown that NIL deals are mainly beneficial to men, so there is also talk about how women in college sports can be involved with utilizing their NIL to gain money. For the athletes, this is only beneficial, but some argue that it disfigures the spirit of college competition within sports, as the main aspect of college athletics is that it is not professional. A central question remains: should college athletes be paid for their success or does it take away from the collegiate experience and aspect of college sports?