What NIL looks like for Belmont athletes
Since July 2021, Belmont athletes can profit from their name, image and likeness, and Belmont’s athletic department is hoping to help, whether it be through educating or networking.
Before the rule, Belmont athletes could not make money from their name, said sports administration chair Ted Peetz.
“If you were a music student at Belmont, you could give guitar lessons and charge 20 bucks an hour,” Peetz said. “But if you were a golfer at Belmont and wanted to give golf lessons and charge $20 an hour, the NCAA wouldn’t allow that.”
In summer 2021, the Division I Board of Directors allowed college athletes to get paid for the use of their name, image and likeness after the Supreme Court ruled in a 9-0 unanimous decision that the NCAA had violated antitrust law.
With NIL being new to college sports, Belmont needed to familiarize athletes with NIL, Belmont athletic director Scott Corley said.
“We’ve certainly got to educate them on the tools that are available. We’ve got to educate them on what is required, and how they can build a brand,” Corley said.
Belmont partnered with INFLCR, a company that educates athletes on the details of NIL, to help its athletes understand this new era of college sports.
The service includes a section on how to make wise NIL decisions so that businesses don’t take advantage of athletes.
But the responsibility to make those smart choices falls on the athlete, said director of compliance and student-athlete development John Langdon.
“We always tell the athletes to make sure that they have a lawyer if they’re having to sign a contract. This way they can make sure they’re not being fleeced, but we can’t really control that,” Langdon said.
To give its athletes opportunities for NIL deals, Belmont also launched the Bruin Local Exchange where local and national businesses can connect with Belmont athletes.
Roughly 40 Belmont athletes use these services, Langdon said.
Sophomore baseball player Jordan Zuger has deals with companies including Liquid IV and Fairway Monkey Golf Apparel.
He credits INFLCR with helping him secure those deals.
But NIL success depends on how much athletes apply themselves, Zuger said.
“INFLCR allows businesses and athletes to connect and look for NIL opportunities, but the process of getting the deals is by putting myself out there,” Zuger said. “You must show confidence and personally try to connect and reach out to the company to make yourself stand out. NIL success is all on the athletes and how much they want to apply themselves.”
The reason more athletes aren’t participating in NIL is because they’re focusing on the student part of student-athlete, Langdon said.
“They have workouts, practice, class and other commitments. I just think some of them don’t want to spend the time to do it,” Langdon said. “I’ve heard a lot about trying to do stuff on social media, and you have to be creative. It’s hard to do.”
But Corley said he believes more athletes will soon become interested in NIL, and Belmont has a solid foundation for those athletes to secure deals.
“My feeling is more high school kids will get recruited and be more familiar with NIL. I think that’s going to happen naturally,” Corley said. “We’ve got the ability for you to have the ability to benefit off your name, image and likeness if you come to Belmont.”
This article was written by Ty Wellemeyer