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NIL Deals: How to Choose The Right Athlete

By September 2, 2021No Comments

If you’ve been keeping up with college sports, then you know about the NIL policy that allows athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness.

This news has been exciting for all industries and provides an especially unique opportunity for local businesses.

Businesses of all kinds can now contact athletes to secure partnerships by offering compensation for business promotion.

How do you choose the right athlete for your business?

Do Your Research

The research process is the most important part of the partnership process. You need to invest the time to make sure that you find the right individual to represent you and your business. Where do you start?

First, get a spreadsheet together of a few local Division I colleges & universities. Think about which sports you want to go after — sports like women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, baseball, wrestling, and volleyball are all good places to start.

Higher profile sports like basketball and football are also an option if you’re willing to spend a little more money. These athletes will likely demand a higher dollar sponsorship compared to an athlete from a less visible sport, but they will also have a larger audience.

After that, take a look at the rosters for each sport to find the athletes. Make sure the athletes that are listed are currently on the team and haven’t already graduated (unless you are willing to go after graduated athletes who are playing professionally and local).

List the athlete names in a spreadsheet and look them up on Instagram to see what their existing social media profiles look like. As a local business, you want to try to go after people who have at least 2000 followers to ensure that you will be getting something out of the partnership. Anything below 2000 may not get the reach that you are hoping for.

In the spreadsheet, keep note of their:

  • Name
  • Instagram Username
  • School
  • Sport
  • Follower Count
  • Approximate Engagement Per Post

Vetting Athletes

Vetting the athletes is one of the most important parts of this process. This is the step that will set you up for success if done carefully and correctly.

Some good factors to consider when vetting are the general content the athlete is already posting, whether it’s authentic, whether they fit your brand, and what type of audience they already have.

Existing Content

It’s important to look at what content the athlete already is posting about. Think about what things you would be okay with your company being associated with. An athlete who posts pictures with their teammates, friends, and family would be a better option than one who posts inappropriate partying pictures.

Frequency is another factor to consider. You want to find someone who is relatively active on Instagram, not someone who posts once a year.


It is also important to consider the athlete’s current audience. Their followers will mainly consist of high school and college students, with maybe a few adult sports fans. Make sure that your business can relate in some way to their audience.

For instance, it might not make sense for a B2B company to work with a college athlete. Make sure you really consider what the athlete has to offer as well as whether or not your business matches their brand.

Next Steps

After you’ve vetted the athletes, review your original spreadsheet and narrow it down to a couple that seem to be a good fit.

Once you have a few selected, you can start to reach out to the athletes through direct message!

Need more tips on how to vet an athlete for a partnership? Contact our experts at Sweet Rose Studios to get started today!