Student-athletes share their experience with NIL


Keira Saavedra

Stanford athlete Juliette Whittaker(left) poses for NIL deal photo with Wildwood running. UCLA athlete Mia Kane(right) poses for a NIL deal photo with You Need This brand.

For years, colleges across the country have made millions of dollars off of the athletes name, image, and likeness (NIL) in each respective sport. Before NIL rules were changed the athletes did not see any of the profits that came out of each of their competitions. 

In June of 2021, the Division 1 (D1) Board of Directors passed a policy that would allow athletes to use their NIL to receive compensation and build a brand outside of the school they compete for. In July of 2021, athletes were officially allowed to be compensated for their NILs. Many athletes have taken advantage of this new policy and have begun to partner with brands. NIL compensation can range from $1,000 to millions for various brand deals. 

Juliette Whittaker, a student-athlete who competes for Stanford on the Cross Country and Track & Field team, has begun to build her own brand. Whittaker had an impressive high school running career. She became the second ever high school girl to break the two minute barrier in the 800 meter race. 

With help from Stanford’s NIL Compliance Board, Whittaker has begun to sign deals with various brands such as Nuun and Wildwood Running. 

“I came up with a list, with either companies that I have very similar values or my values aligned a lot with theirs…and then I reached out to a bunch through email and Instagram just kind of like sharing a little about me, why I want to work with them and how my values align with theirs,” said Whittaker. 

Mia Kane, a student-athlete and Lincoln alum who competes for the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) on the Cross Country and Track & Field team, has also begun to sign NIL deals and promote brands through her social media. 

Collegiate sports are considered a commitment that requires a lot of time and energy, NILs give more recognition to the commitment that athletes make to their sports. 

“It is pretty much a full time job. Between the amount of time you spend at practice and at weights and traveling for competition and stuff. It is just really nice, finally it feels like more recognized as a job,” said Kane. 

These partnerships with brands help athletes build their own image and promote themselves.  

“It helps a lot when everything we are doing, when we are competing for our school, we’re helping them create a brand but it is not necessarily creating one for ourselves. So, I feel like these NIL deals are helping us individually build our own brand and market ourselves,” said Whittaker.