NIL Myth: NIL is just for D1 Universities

spry nil myth NIL is just for D1 Universities x

It’s true, people believe that NIL deals are just for Division 1 Schools and Student-Athletes. But we know that isn’t the case. Perhaps it is because fans see the same sports represented on television or hear about the same schools and mascots. Fans may believe that there are only a few ways to capitalize on NIL but we are ready to disprove that myth!

Some reasons people may believe that NIL is only for D1 schools are:

  • Brands only want to support nationally known, or well-known student-athletes
    1. If an athlete is showcased on a national broadcast, they have the branding and reach to support a “big” NIL deal.
  • Schools with big budgets can help find NIL opportunities for their Student-Athletes
    1. Schools with large budgets and Athletic Departments with sponsorship deals already in place have bigger and stronger networks for the Student-Athletes.
  • D1 Sports are broadcast on TV
    1. There is a point that bigger exposure for well-known student-athletes may open doors for NIL opportunities but that is not the only way to secure a NIL deal.

These reasons are all just hearsay! Everyday fans do not know what is driving brands to make NIL commitments, but in addition to the well-known brands committing to Student-Athletes Spry has noticed brands committing to athletes at D2, D3 and NAIA institutions. We have seen multiple deals struck with Olympic athletes returning from Tokyo, and local brands seem to love supporting local Student-Athletes.

The idea of NIL only being for D1 athletes is wrong because:

  • Brands are targeting local athletes, big or small
    1. Local businesses see returns on their investment into local institutions. Community members like to support the athletes that they see in action – the “hometown hero’s”. NIL now allows deals such as: if a Community College athlete recommends a local coffee shop on their social media there is a great chance the business will see an uptick in sales.
  • NIL deals are large and small
    1. Big deals get big coverage, but there are many more targeted sponsorships celebrating student-athletes with close ties to local businesses. These are the NIL deals that should be making headlines.
  • Entrepreneur opportunities for all
    1. NIL legislation has opened a door for Student-Athletes to start their own businesses and promote at all levels. D2 and D3 athletes have just as much of an opportunity to promote their own products as any other athletes.

Here is a great example of a non-traditional NIL deal.

Check back next week when we explain why every institution should have NIL software to help manage their student-athletes NIL opportunities.

Lyle Adams


Lyle was a member of the 2007 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship team at Wake Forest. After embarking on a professional soccer career, Lyle transitioned to the tech industry, where he was one of the first 100 employees at Uber, designing platforms and tools for data consumers. Lyle also holds a Master’s in Sports Management from Columbia University.