The National Collegiate Athletic Association has adopted a policy that allows for college athletes of all three divisions to be paid for their name, image and likeness, or "NIL."
The University of Arizona created “Arizona Edge” to educate student athletes about NIL and how they can go about developing their persona.
The NIL rules allow for student-athletes to engage in several different kinds of business opportunities, whether this be autographs, social media brand endorsements, personal appearances or hosting private lessons and events.
According to its website, Arizona Edge is supported by the Eller College of Management, James E. Rogers College of Law and the UA’s FORGE Program, which stands for Finding Opportunities and Resources to Grow Entrepreneurs.
These three enterprises help student-athletes and businesses get acquainted with NIL policies and understand how these opportunities can be mutually beneficial for the engaging parties.
According to the Arizona Edge Marketplace website, Edge is “symbolic of the university’s commitment to preparing student-athletes for success on and off the field and building strong and resilient relationships with Southern Arizona businesses and national partners.”
Arizona women's basketball player Sam Thomas has already taken the first step in familiarizing herself with Arizona Edge and all of its corresponding benefits.
“I was very excited when I heard about Edge because NIL is a brand new thing for athletes, and it was nice to know there was something to rely on and learn from at the University,” Thomas said.
Edge hosts courses on Desire2Learn and Thomas has already accessed the available ones. The courses have information about different aspects of NIL, all of which teach student-athletes about financial literacy as well as business law, networking and development.
“I've definitely learned about the general business side of sports from Edge and learning how to read contracts, what to look for in a contract and making sure you get the right percentages from your deals,” Thomas said. “One of my biggest fears was being scammed through a contract or running into legal issues reading contracts and having Edge really helped settle my fears.”
Thomas has already engaged in a few small business opportunities through NIL and hopes to expand her knowledge onto some larger projects in the near future.
“One of the main opportunities people talked about right when NIL surfaced was clothing deals,” Thomas said. “Initially, I was not interested because I’m not a big clothing person. However, so many people are asking me for jerseys. So, once I get permission from the school, I may pursue that as my next project.”
The Arizona women's basketball team as a whole is looking further into pursuing NIL business opportunities alongside their teammate Thomas, according to her.
“My teammates are very interested in NIL as well, especially those who are already involved in the Eller school of business because it's a great opportunity for them to get exposure,” Thomas said.
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