North Carolina moving quickly to help college players capitalize on name, image

By Dallas Woodhouse

Raleigh, NC – Twelve states now allow student-athletes, some in high school, to start cashing in on their name, image, and likeness. The move comes after the NCAA approved interim rules while it awaits federal legislation on the issue.

photo by Gene Galin

North Carolina is among the states allowing players to monetize their NIL, and top college programs are solidifying plans to regulate and assist their high-profile student-athletes. While some are calling it the death of amateurism in sports, others say it’s long overdue.

N.C. State University has announced the ALPHA program, along with a new partnership through the company INFLCR, which helps athletes monetize their brand through several avenues, including endorsement deals, social media, and merchandising.

“I still think being on a college campus and the value of an education is enormous,” N.C. State Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan told the  News & Observer. “Being around people on campus who aren’t your teammates but people you’re in school with and all that is still at the core of what we do. This obviously changes that, and we’re going to change to go along with that.”

N.C. State Athletics says it’s about more than monetary gain for athletes, the school says. The program will educate athletes in entrepreneurship, financial literacy, savings, investment, and tax implications. In its partnership with INFLCR, athletes can access digital content and compliance software. In addition to serving as a mobile app for content delivery, INFLCR provides student-athletes with social media metrics, NIL compliance tracking, educational resources, and brand strategy guidance.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed an executive order designed to institute some interim rules so the General Assembly can pass legislation regulating the new area of income and commerce for athletes still considered amateurs. According to Cooper’s order, student-athletes can profit from their name, image, or likeness but can’t accept money as a condition of enrollment or as an enticement to play college sports at any particular institution.

Student-athlete agreements must comply with state and federal laws, in particular the state law governing the relationship between college athletes and professional agents.

“Treating these athletes fairly and uniformly will help our state remain a competitive and desirable place to get educated and compete,” Cooper said.

The executive order also outlines ways in which colleges and universities can limit how athletes benefit from NIL.

In June, the University of North Carolina announced the LAUNCH program to help navigate NIL. According to UNC, LAUNCH will provide expert education and resources related to digital branding, financial planning, and effective networking. To help support the program, Altius Sports Partners will provide UNC with strategic guidance.

Student-athletes are already working on striking a deal.

N.C. State linebacker Isaiah Moore posted:

— Isaiah Moore (@_zaynlm) July 1, 2021

N.C. State receiver Thayer Thomas reached out to Bojangles on Twitter:

@TheNyNy7 Let’s get active🐺📈🍗

— Thayer Thomas (@thayerthomas1) July 2, 2021

States and schools across the country are getting used to this new reality and trying to decide what the policy will look like in practice. Several schools have contracted with marketing agencies to help athletes make the best deal. In Miami, one businessman has offered all the University of Miami scholarship football players up to $500 a month to promote his Mixed Martial Arts Academy training centers. His half-million-dollar commitment means that student-athletes could earn up to $6,000 a year for social media posts and other promotions.