If you aren’t familiar with the term NIL, it refers to college athletes monetizing the use of their name, image, or likeness. Until 2021, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) did not allow student-athletes to use their NIL to earn compensation.
Recently, TurboTax took a trip to the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Georgia, to meet with athletes interested in NIL. At the #NILSummit, student-athletes and athletic staff from across the nation come to celebrate achievements and gain access to a wealth of information to help them maximize their NIL opportunities. We listened to their questions, gave advice on taxes, and even gave out an award…and we may have enjoyed a cocktail or two.
If you’ve never been to Atlanta’s airport, the size and crowds reminds me of Disney World. By the time I fetched my luggage, hailed a rideshare, and checked into the hotel – I had worked up an appetite. Luckily, I was able to grab breakfast with coworkers to start the weekend.
Afterward, we quickly made our way to the venue at the College Football Hall of Fame where we were enthralled by all the sports memorabilia. As you walk in you are welcomed by a wall covered in numerous college football helmets. It took me a few minutes, but I was able to spot my alma mater, the Florida State University Seminoles.
After we had set up our TurboTax booth for the event we spent some time going through the Hall of Fame and all of its exhibits. I even got to try my talents as a sports news announcer and attempt to complete a pass on the football field. Let’s just say I should stick to doing taxes and leave the sports to the athletes.
Later the athletes walked the red carpet in their stylish threads and designer looks to start an evening of recognizing outstanding athletes and their achievements in NIL over the past year,and they cleaned up nicely… as did we!
During the awards dinner, TurboTax presented the award for Breakthrough Athlete of the Year that went to Dieunerst “Dennis” Collins. If the name isn’t familiar to you, this meme of Collins may be. Collins, then 9 years old, went viral as he hilariously gave side-eye glances in line at a Popeyes. Fast forward 10 years later, where Collins plays football at Lake Erie and has secured a NIL deal with Popeyes. A remarkable full circle moment for the young athlete.
The night ended with an after party by Instagram and a performance by LSU women’s basketball guard and champion Flau’jae Johnson who performed her new single. Johnson, a great display of talent, was also the recipient of the Innovator of the Year award presented to her earlier that evening.
During the party we made ourselves available to the athletes, provided an awesome photobooth and even gave away free bucket hats – which were a big hit.
The next day there was a robust agenda for student athletes and athletic staff alike. Athletes, brands, and advisors lead discussions surrounding NIL deals from the legal aspects of deals to personal branding and wealth management. Student athletes were able to engage with experts in various fields, share actionable insights, and gain an abundance of knowledge to better help them on their NIL journey.
My colleague, Ale, sat down with some of the athletes to ask them how we, as a company, can better help NIL athletes and she gave them some great advice.
Later, I was a panelist on a discussion lead by “your favorite Wall Street girlie” Vivian Tu, also known by her social handlemoniker @yourrichbbff, where she hosted a discussion on money secrets to playing the NIL long game.
Also on the panel was Fidelity SVP of emerging consumers Kelly Lannan and Jack Betts, wide receiver from Amherst whom the prior evening had won the NIL Summit “Hustle” award.
Overall, the event was a huge success. We talked to student-athletes about their financial journeys and how to build wealth for the future. We shared money secrets and best practices to help student-athletes play the long game with their NIL deals.