NIL expert expects minimum wage to be $50,000 for Power 5 players

Men’s soccer and basketball players on scholarships at a major conference can expect to soon earn at least $50,000 each year they play due to the influx of money from so-called name, image and likeness brokering deals.

That forecast, based on market trends, was made this week by Blake Lawrence, co-founder and CEO of a company that helps athletes and schools navigate the ever-changing NIL landscape.

The increased dollar amounts available to college athletes through the latest group formation have caught the attention of the NCAA, which this week released guidelines for schools hoping to maintain the original goal of NIL compensation.

College sports leaders are concerned that some collegiate groups have gone beyond paying athletes for activities such as endorsements and appearances and breaking the pay-to-play ban by offering money to influence athletes’ decisions about where to go to school. NCAA rules prohibit reinforcements from contacting potential recruits.

Lawrence co-founded Opendorse in 2012 to facilitate endorsement deals for professional athletes. The former Nebraska football player was among the advisors who worked with the NCAA to shape NIL policy, and he expanded his company to provide opportunities for college athletes to cash in on their fame and to develop compliance technology that allows schools to track deals.

Lawrence based a minimum of $50,000 per year per player on the assumption that the groups supporting the assumption funnel about $5 million annually to the NIL pools and that some of the money will go to athletes in other sports. There are groups supporting the NIL at more than half of the 65 Power Five schools, including Notre Dame, and more are in the pipeline.

Drop Lawrence on the spot, said Michael LeRoy, a professor of labor law at the University of Illinois who researches compensation for college athletes.

“It’s a frenetic market, and it really reflects the pent-up demand for players to pay,” Leroy said.

Lawrence said a top five-star recruit could make as little as $1 million a year in earnings when money coming from sources outside the supporting group is considered, especially if it’s a quarterback. Four star recruits can earn well in the six figures.

But even a lower-ranking recruit in a less glamorous position will be well compensated — earning $50,000 — because the support group will ensure peace is maintained on the team, Lawrence said.

“If an entire class arrives on campus and they are all scholarship athletes and one individual earns six figures and another earns zero dollars, it will create a rift,” Lawrence said. “What these groups have done in certain markets is to realize that it is about equality. Everyone in this locker room will have some kind of support so there is equality in the base class. And there may be additional value for the most marketable and influential individuals in each employment category.”

How long reinforcement groups choose to fund NIL opportunities is debatable.

Creating fair market value for athletes is a moving goal and it’s critical that athletes get paid to make real money, said Jason Pelzer, attorney and founder of Student-Athlete NIL, which has worked with Penn State and Rutgers to create kits. services in return.

Belzer used the example of every Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) school that has a pool with $10 million annually going to soccer players. He said members of the support group for the last-place team can become frustrated and regret funding the NIL.

“They’ll say, ‘Well, I’m not going to put money in anymore, because my investment didn’t give any return at all. I didn’t get my name on one of the buildings. I couldn’t access anything other than that. And wait a second. Now I don’t want that coach anymore, but I just gave all my money to student-athletes, and I can’t even pay to buy the guy,” Belzer said.


AP College sports writer Ralph D.


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