A publishing platform that specializes in helping athletes build their brands believes that Texas Longhorns senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger would benefit tremendously from the financial opportunities provided by the ability to monetize his name, image, and likeness, especially on social media.
Opendorse provided data to Axios that shows potential earning based on data gained over a decade of working with professional athletes and Ehlinger tops the list at $962k based on factors like school, social presence, and success/name recognition.
The data illustrates the extent to which having access to a large social media audience could increasingly force college athletes to place a significant priority on building their online followings as the NCAA moves to lift restrictions.
Opendorse’s CEO cautioned about the coming shift from “assumptions to reality,” but the company’s data is already drawing attention on social media, with Texas Director of Recruiting Bryan Carrington using it as a recruiting tool.
Expect that to become increasingly common — Forbes expects colleges to hire “brand coaches” to help athletes market themselves. Meanwhile, support personnel and assistant coaches will tout the ability to monetize a prospect’s NIL on the recruiting trail in order to land the top players.
The changes should benefit schools like Texas more than others, especially in the Big 12, as Austin is the most populous city in the country without a professional sports team. When Austin FC starts MLS competition in 2021, that will change, but it likely won’t significantly reduce the attention paid to and money involved with Longhorns athletics, especially football.
When compared to small college towns (hello, Ames and Manhattan) or schools forced to compete with professional sports in the same city, Texas will increase some of its natural recruiting advantages.
Regarding the long-term health of the program, however, the Longhorns will still have to compete for national recruits with schools that have comparable brands and more recent success on the field.
And, of course, this is all assumption until it becomes reality.