Student Athletes Begin Signing Influencer Deals With Brands

August 2021
Share this article

Haley Cavinder and her twin sister Hanna, who play basketball for Fresno State, have signed a deal with Boost Mobile, making them the first college athletes to become brand influencers since the NCAA agreed this summer to let student athletes earn money from their names, images and likenesses.

As NBC News reports, since the NCAA’s policy took effect on July 1, student athletes have begun signing brand deals, meeting with industry experts and learning how to make money on social media. 

“This is going to be a huge boon for college athletes,” said Mae Karwowski, CEO and founder of Obviously, an influencer-marketing agency.

With their high visibility, student athletes can easily build followings. Bryce Adams, director of brand partnerships at Captiv8, a company that connects brands with influencers, said he wouldn’t be surprised to see some student athletes earn high-six-figure annual incomes as influencers. 

So far, many of the deals are with more local brands in markets where athletes have a celebrity cache. For instance, several players for the Ohio State University football team are endorsing smaller nutrition and clothing companies while other Buckeyes appeared at an autograph signing and were legally charging guests, according to USA Today.

Eager to reach audiences through student athletes, some companies are creating partnership opportunities for them. Dave Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, a sports and pop-culture website, recently announced that his brand will start Barstool Athletics to help land endorsement deals with players. Several college athletes have already partnered with the company, including Adelaide Halverson, a volleyball player at Jacksonville State University in Alabama.

Many students who play college sports do not pursue athletic careers after graduation, so social-media influencing could benefit them long after they have left the game.

Return to Current Issue Spotlight on Health & Wellness | August 2021
Share this article
[jamie sabau/getty images sports]

Subscribe to Strategies & Tactics


*Strategies & Tactics is included with a PRSA membership