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New Research Institute Aims to Gather and Analyze NIL Data

The NIL Research Initiative is a partnership between NIL Education Information Center and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

NIL Education and Information Center

As college sports enters its second year in which student athletes can earn money for their name, image and likeness rights, we still don’t have a clear picture of the marketplace. What data was released for Year 1 showed the picture to be as clear as mud, as my grandmother would have said.

Initially, the NCAA planned to have what it called a third-party administrator (TPA) to gather NIL data. However, that concept was scrapped at the eleventh hour. Sports industry veterans Oliver Luck and Bill Squadron were finalists for that role and never gave up the idea of developing the nonprofit they formed for that venture.

NIL Education and Information Center, the nonprofit formed by Luck and Squadron for their bid to be the TPA, will now partner with Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to study this emerging NIL marketplace. Tableau, a leading analytics platform and Keyrus, will participate in this educational program by providing pro bono database management and data visualization services. 

Salesforce will also support this research initiative as part of its “Power of Us” program, which provides eligible nonprofits and educational institutions free or discounted technology. The initiative will leverage Salesforce as the ingestion tool for all NIL data.

The goal of the NIL Research Initiative is to develop a data-driven, transparent view of NIL activity in order to present a more accurate, complete understanding of the NIL landscape. With the support of faculty, Cronkite School students will collect data from various sources, including transactional platforms, university NIL collectives, school athletic departments and athletes, and produce stories and other content. Elon University students will also participate in the NIL Research Initiative.

A number of participants in the market have expressed support for the initiative, including IconSource, INFLCR and Opendorse. Many in the industry believe there is value in having a reliable picture of how the NIL market is working. Entities that provide data will receive complete access to the national market information.

“With all of the swirling headlines and anecdotes, a data-driven effort to understand the NIL market is sorely needed,” said Luck, co-chair of the NIL-EIC, which was originally created to serve as the NCAA’s third-party administrator for its oversight of NIL activity.

“We are pleased to be a partner in this effort,” said Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr . “It reflects our role as a leader in providing the public with important insights on current events, and will be a great opportunity for our students to produce stories and content on this emerging area.”

“The college sports landscape is changing rapidly,” said Squadron, NIL EIC co-chair and an Assistant Professor of Sport Management at Elon University. “Sound policy and business decisions cannot be made without reliable information.”

The collected data will immediately transfer to Tableau as it comes in, which will organize the database, assist with the consistency of the data, and aid in safeguarding the confidential information provided by each individual deal. The joint initiative will publish periodic reports on the NIL market activity. Those reports are expected to become available in 2023.

Author

  • Kristi A. Dosh is the founder of BusinessofCollegeSports.com and has served as a sports business analyst and contributor for outlets such as Forbes, ESPN, SportsBusiness Journal, Bleacher Report, SB Nation and more. She is also the author of a book on the business of college football, Saturday Millionaires. Kristi is a sought-after consultant and speaker on topics related to the business of college sports and a former practicing attorney. Click to learn more

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