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How much does NIL money impact the bottom line in college athletics?

Chris Graham
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If you’re like me, interested in knowing more about the bottom-line impact of NIL on college athletics, you’re bound to be frustrated.

We all know that NIL money is flowing; we just don’t know how much, who has it, who’s getting it, how it influences the decisions of the kids.

I’ll cut to the chase when it comes to specifics with NIL and the athletics programs at the school that I write about, the University of Virginia: I’ve tried, and I can’t get anything remotely resembling specifics about the impact of NIL at UVA.

Cav Futures is the official NIL collective for UVA Athletics. It’s set up as a stand-alone non-profit, so it’s not something I can just FOIA.

Try as I might, I haven’t been able to track down a Form 990 for Cav Futures using the traditional resources.

What UVA Athletics does, then, is a mystery, for now.

I’m not giving up.

You never know, a copy of what I’m looking for might mysteriously appear in the mail one day.

As I was researching this topic, I did stumble upon a report on NIL from a Lincoln, Neb.,-based company, Opendorse, that purports to work with more than 100,000 college student-athletes in the NIL sector.

The report, NIL at 3,” provides an overview of how NIL has grown since the rollout in 2021, and where things are headed.

The highlights, from my read:

  • Opendorse reports that the NIL market has grown from a $917 million total valuation in 2021-2022 to a projected $1.67 billion in the current 2024-2025 academic sports year.
  • NIL collectives, like Cav Futures, control 81.6 percent of the total NIL market, so, doing the math, that would come to $1.36 billion of the total. The rest comes from individual deals worked out by marketing reps, individual agents and student-athletes themselves.
  • Of that $1.36 billion aggregate in collective spending, 72.2 percent of the NIL money flowing out from collectives goes to football ($983.3 million), with 21.2 percent ($289.8 million) going to men’s basketball.
  • The top 25 quarterbacks receive a median NIL annual compensation package valued at $648,400.
  • The top 25 football players at other positions get a median $294,134 per year.
  • The top 25 men’s basketball players get more – $349,492 per year.
  • The top 25 women’s basketball players get more ($88,975) than the median salary for players in the WNBA ($78,000).
  • College baseball players don’t get much – the top 25 median is $47,710 per year.
  • The magic number: the median Power 4 collective annual budget is $13.9 million.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].