Sunday, April 5, 2020

Is a College Tennis Player in Line for $53K When NCAA Authorizes Name, Image, Likeness Payments? USTA Learning Series Webinar Returns Monday

Although the college sport I follow most closely, tennis, does not generate much if any revenue, I've still tried to follow the recent push to compensate college athletes based on licensing their name, likeness and image. Individual state legislatures have been introducing bills to allow it, with California passing such a law last year, so the NCAA has been compelled to address the issue.

A email newsletter I subscribe to recently offered a look at what college athletes might make when (I don't believe it's "if" anymore) the NCAA approves this rule, and I confess I didn't expect to find any mention of college athletes that didn't play Division I football and men's Division I basketball. 

So imagine my shock, when, at No. 20 on the list of Most Valuable College Athletes, I saw a women's Division I tennis player, and one I had never heard of. Based on her 66,000 Instagram followers, Cleveland State's Klara Mrcela is projected to be worth $53,000 in yearly endorsement revenue.

Just given the visibility of a player like Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, I couldn't imagine any athletes in other sports ahead of him on such a list, but he was actually fourth, behind UNC and Duke basketball players and a UCLA woman gymnast.  Again, because I do not follow other collegiate Olympic sports with the same interest I have in tennis, I was taken aback by all the gymnastics, track and field and baseball student-athletes on this list.

As the study's sponsors note:

One potentially surprising takeaway from our analysis is that many of the most popular female athletes would likely be able to generate as much – if not more – endorsement revenue than their male counterparts based on social reach. Indeed, by our estimates, the UCLA women’s gymnastics team alone could be worth as much as $1,250,000 annually in endorsement revenue, including generating almost $10,000 per team wide sponsored Instagram posts pushed out via a platform like Inflcr.

What exactly would catapult a student-athlete into this kind of social media popularity remains something of a mystery, although I imagine sex appeal, humor or creativity could be part of the reason that less prominent student-athletes have built impressive followings. It certainly is good news for sports that may not generate revenue, but have these popular ambassadors promoting their universities in ways that resonate with potential students.

Read for yourself the methodology and the assumptions used to generate these various lists in this article from Athletic Director U.

The USTA's second Learning Series webinar is scheduled for Monday at 3 p.m. EDT, with registration required for the free event, entitled Character and Philosophy. Former USTA Director of Coaching Jose Higueras is expected to participate, and there will be a question and answer session following the presentation. Adobe Connect is required to participate in the live session. 


TXtennismom said...

The "UCLA gymnast" is Olympic Gold medalist and world champion, Madison Kocian. She's not your regular college athlete. Gymnastics is HUGE as an an Olympic sport and she's had a very public career of great accomplishment.