NIL Partnerships are Extending Personal Branding Opportunities to Non-Athletic Students With Unique Talents


The advent of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) laws in collegiate sports means personal branding is not only for social media influencers or big-time celebrities anymore. The landscape of personal branding is becoming increasingly democratized. This is particularly significant on college campuses where, beyond athletes, non-athletic personalities have an opportunity to market themselves, too. The various disciplines of talent they display is also a chance for them to increase their stock value in the eyes of future employers or sponsors. 

The key, however, is the role of marketing directors who can offer assistance in shaping these unique talents to broader interest and even more sponsorship deals. But the responsibility is on both ends. The students must be proactive, continuously updating their digital selves, showcasing their skills, and engaging with their audience. The idea that anyone can be a brand is not new, but it’s a concept that’s gaining serious traction in academic settings. 

Leigh Steinberg is an Adjunct Professor at Concordia University Irvine and a renowned sports agent. He has years of expertise in the fields of branding and marketing spanning nearly five decades. Steinberg is Chairman of the Board at Steinberg Sports & Entertainment, which he has led since 1975. Sports law is his specialty in teaching at several institutions. 

He briefly explained how non-athlete students can also gain ground in obtaining NIL deals. With the Midwestern convenience store chain, Kwik Trip, recently partnering with University of Wisconsin–Madison marching band student, Will Hazeltine, Steinberg mentioned how this just the latest in similar non-athlete NIL deals to come.

Steinberg’s Thoughts on Personal Branding

“As the field of NIL expands, it’s inevitable that there will be non-athletic personalities on college campuses who, much like influencers in different areas, can again take advantage of logo and branding to be marketed. So, it could be a member of the marching band, it could be a dramatic arts major, it could be anyone as long as they have interesting content and that high profile of partnership with Kwik Trip and Will Hazeltine is a harbinger of things to come because, again, you have alumni groups that have a special interest in highlighting athletes and keeping them on campus, but they also have an interest in other students who may have something unique to share.

“And brand can be extended to any student on a campus, and if they’re working with a marketing director, that person can help them put together the best website, the best content. They need to be constantly posting, but this marketing branding craze can hit any interesting individual.”

Article written by Alexandra Simon.

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