Ohio State student-athletes explain how they benefit from NIL
Average NIL deal is $4,777
From football to volleyball to basketball players, the Buckeyes are thriving in the new environment of dealmaking now that student-athletes can profit from name, image and likeness opportunities.
Three students spoke to The Ohio State University Board of Trustees Thursday about some of the success they’ve experienced in the new landscape of college athletics. Volleyball player Sarah Morbitzer, lacrosse player Mitchell Pehlke and football player Treveyon Henderson represent some of the different types of experiences available in the new NIL market.
Morbitzer, a preferred walk-on player, is not on scholarship and as a defensive specialist, she wasn’t sure she would benefit from these programs.
“Being a walk-on, my parents have to pay my tuition, room and board, and learning about NIL gave me the opportunity to earn some spending money on my own,” she said.
Morbitzer worked with Opendorse, a program that provides Ohio State student-athletes with education and resource opportunities to capitalize on their name, image and likeness, to develop a series of in-person volleyball training programs for which she is compensated to help local players improve their game.
Henderson, whose sponsorships include a local car dealer, said he is able to make enough money to help support his mom and siblings in Virginia and invest in his own future.
“Being a student-athlete here at The Ohio State University is a big advantage due to the huge support we get from our fan base, alumni and the Columbus community,” he said.
For Pehlke, NIL revenue meant renewed support for his passion as a content creator. Pehlke has been creating content on his YouTube channel since 2016. His lacrosse-inspired videos have more than 4.5 million total views and he has 130,000 subscribers across social media platforms.
“The moment I stepped foot on campus my freshman year, I had to demonetize my whole YouTube channel,” he said. “That was very tough for me, but the commitment to play lacrosse and to the university was obviously No. 1.”
Now, with the new rules and his Ohio State connections, Pehlke said he has almost $200,000 in marketing deals and monthly income from YouTube views.
“There’s a great diversity and opportunities that our athletes have availed themselves of,” said Gene Smith, senior vice president and Wolfe Foundation endowed athletic director. “While there's concern and challenges around NIL, this is representative of why it’s good.”
Smith said so far more than 620 deals have combined for nearly $3 million in transactions. Most deals are between $25 to $500, and the average deal is $4,777. The average is skewed because of a few six-figure NIL deals.
The university’s approach to support student-athletes continues to evolve. The Department of Athletics recently launched the NIL Edge Team, an internal advisory group whose members can assist student-athletes with access and resources to successfully pursue NIL opportunities. The Edge Team may work with companies and brands to assist in the NIL process, and it will also have the flexibility to monitor and adapt to changing guidelines and legislation.
In addition, new university guidelines will designate operations directors for most of Ohio State’s 36 varsity sports to serve as NIL points-of-contact for their sports. The operations directors will be able to assist with facilitating a connection for an NIL activity while also educating outside entities on NIL best practices at Ohio State.