The announcements came in a flurry as soon as the calendar flipped to July one year ago.
Miami quarterback D’Eriq King was among the first college athletes to capitalize on the use of his name, image and likeness, signing a deal with a moving company worth about $20,000. Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz and Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler tweeted out their new personal logos, showing they were open for business. Hanna and Haley Cavinder, twin basketball players from Fresno State who were mostly unknown to the sports world aside from their massive social media following, suddenly found themselves posing in New York City promoting a mobile technology company and a whey protein brand.
It was all so … fun and seemingly innocent — and long overdue. When college sports’ NIL era began, businesses were paying current athletes either to reap the benefits from their fame or to create a buzz within the industry as a bold entrant into the new advertising space.