AUSTIN, Texas — It’s a long debated topic: should college athletes be able to make money for playing their sport?

What You Need To Know

  • NCAA may change rules to let college athletes make money

  • Would allow them to seek endorsement deals

  • Marketer believes most of the money will be driven by an athletes' online platform

Many get a valuable scholarship to go to college and a small monthly stipend, but college athletics is a multi-billion dollar enterprise and the athletes are left out of that revenue they help generate.

“There is no other field where a 19- or 20-year-old can be the best at what they do and not get paid for it,” says Patrick Curran.

Curran is a former college football player and college football coach. He now runs a marketing company with his brother that helps athletes build their brand. With new rules likely coming in 2021 that will allow college athletes to profit off their likeness, he understands what this could mean financially.

“I don’t think they are getting a piece of the pie. I think they are getting a piece of new pie,” says Curran.

Under the proposed guidelines, the NCAA won’t allow the universities themselves to pay the athletes. Instead players will be able to seek out endorsement deals and other marketing opportunities on their own. Curran believes most of the money will be driven by an athletes' online platform.

“Everything is going to be social media driven, even if it is the car dealership- they’re going to want you to promote that on your social media,” Curran added. “If it’s autographs, if it’s appearances, or if it is just social media brand play- everything ties back to social.” 

The athletes could potentially be in commercials, they could do autograph signings at a local business or even be paid just to show up at a party or event. There will likely be many avenues for them to make money, especially for the highest profile players in the country.

“I think they’re millionaires,” says Curran. “I think Sam (Ehlinger) at Texas, the Trever Lawrence’s of the world, the Justin Fields of the world are millionaires.”

That’s if they could make money this year under the proposed format. Unfortunately most of those guys will miss out on the opportunity before it becomes legal and they’ll be in the pros next year. But the money won’t just be for the quarterbacks and superstars, Curran see’s many athletes on campus having the chance to profit.

“It’s way bigger than just the elites,” Curran says. “You’re elites are millionaires and then a handful of high six figures and low six figures and then go from there.” 

This means college athletes will basically become their own business and they’ll have to operate like a business. They have to report earnings to the school, pay taxes on those earnings and broker deals by themselves or through an outside representative. A lot of these athletes have a large following already on social media, now they’ll have to learn how to capitalize on that.

“Very few understand how to monetize and benefit from this and create a business, not just an Instagram post,” Curran says.

New rules will likely allow for all this, but at the end of the day companies and local businesses will be the ones spending the money to pay for these athletes endorsements and Curran believes they will.

“Never ever has a business or brand been able to go [to] campuses through 18-22 year olds to promote to other 18-22 year olds,” Curran says. “It’s unprecedented, never been able to happen before.”

There is still a lot to work out and there will be negative issues that come out of this that will change the landscape of college sports. But Curran also believes it will create opportunities that are long overdue.

For more information about name, image and likeness, Curran has a page set up on his company’s website