The Crossnet Influencer Pool

Recently the NCAA capitulated to common sense a court order and legalized the compensation of college athletes for their name, image, and likeness. The biggest winner here, of course, is the athletes. Within hours, Fresno State’s Cavinder twins- with millions of TikTok followers in tow- had inked deals with Six Star Nutrition and were on a Times Square Billboard for Boost Mobile.

Hundreds of athletes across all college sports have inked their own deals since the interim NIL regulations went into effect. Barstool Sports, never one to miss an opportunity, launched an influencer agency, Barstool Athletics, overnight after a Jacksonville State volleyball player, Adelaide Halverson, reached out and Dave Portnoy embraced the opportunity. One of our clients, Crossnet, sprang into action themselves and built out an athlete program within days.

crossnet in the ncaa

The next biggest winner? Marketing leaders like you. 

What does this mean for your brand? For starters, your pool of potential influencers just got way, way deeper. The ability for college athletes to deliver quality content for brands is substantial. As a former college athlete, I can attest- if a brand effectively says that they believe in me by sending me product, swag, and modest checks, I’m going to work much harder for them than I did for CVS Pharmacy back in the day. Marketing leaders today have the unique opportunity to “buy low” on many of these athlete relationships before everyone jumps on the bus and drives prices up, much in the same way many moms on Instagram went from appreciating free product a few years ago to having a scalable fee schedule based on deliverables today.

Brands with brick-and-mortar presences in college towns have a lay-up opportunity to partner with local athletes that make the local TV highlights every week and are well-positioned to evangelize the brand. If your brand sells a niche product set, such as our friends at Crossnet, wouldn’t it make sense to partner with as many college volleyball players as possible? What better way to grow a sport from scratch?

The possibilities are endless, even for B2B marketers. Imagine turning your internships into endorsement opportunities. Imagine hosting private receptions with players from your prospects’ and VIPs’ favorite teams after games. Not to mention the possibilities with recruiting talent during the talent shortage everyone seems to be experiencing. For example, in a cut-throat jobs market like San Diego right now, why not offer a paid ambassadorship with certain school athletes majoring in business or your field of choice to get a leg up on relationship building with them and their classmates? Most college athletes have a keen understanding of how to be coachable, work well with others, and communicate- and as the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together. Sounds like a good start on recruiting to me.

But before you start sliding into college athletes’ DMs to explore endorsement deals, make sure you have your house in order. What are the deliverables that you’re looking for? What does winning look like, for them and for you? How are you going to build sustainable relationships that will lead to introductions to underclassmen in the years to come? If you don’t have an influencer program built out already, you probably shouldn’t be pursuing NIL deals with athletes. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build one.

Need help sorting this out? Just reply to this post and our team will be in touch.