Since July 1, 2021, the college athletics world has seen a seismic shift. For the first time in history, student-athletes are able to profit from their Name, Image, and Likeness, and we’ve seen some incredible partnerships take place. Student-athletes and brands have embraced this brand new era with creativity and ambition.
At MarketPryce, we’re seeing the student-athlete sponsorship boom up close and personal as hundreds of college athletes join MarketPryce to connect with our network of brands.
Not only do we provide a two-sided marketplace for athletes and brands to connect for deals, but just last month, we launched a new initiative called MarketPryce Florida, a program that unites the Gainesville community through NIL. MarketPryce Florida allows student-athletes to close sponsorship deals with local businesses, local businesses to grow their business through athlete marketing, and alumni to contribute to their favorite student-athletes.
As part of our MarketPryce Florida rollout, we were so excited to join forces with Darren Heitner, who will serve as an advisor to MarketPryce and help MarketPryce continue to establish itself as one of the pre-eminent players in the NIL industry. Not only is Heitner a Florida alumni (both undergraduate and law school), but he’s become the go-to source for all things NIL, keeping his 45,000 Twitter followers as informed as possible on the subject.
To celebrate this partnership, we sat down with Heitner recently for a conversation on NIL, UF athletics, and MarketPryce Florida.
MP: Why are you so excited about MarketPryce Florida?
DH: It presents a new opportunity for Florida Athletes and I think providing more opportunities for the players is a net positive. This, specifically, is unique in that it doesn’t require much from athletes and it involves local brands without them having to come out of pocket, so it’s a true win-win.
MP: What are three words you think of regarding the impact of NIL?
DH: Opportunity, Value, Worth.
MP: For student-athletes across the country and at UF who aren’t superstars, who may not play professionally, why does NIL matter to them?
DH: It matters because not only are they able to build their own brand, but they’re able to monetize off of those brands and become businesspeople at an earlier age, which I think is really important. There are a lot of attributes that these individuals are able to achieve and fit within the arsenal.
There’s no reason why everyone else other than athletes should have been able to do these things for decades while we ostracized the athletes themselves. It’s not only important for them in terms of capacity to earn compensation, but also to prevent others from benefiting off of them.
To the extent to which a third party wants to profit off of that fame without appropriately compensating the athlete, that’s an injustice. I’m glad that the athletes now not only have the ability to benefit themselves, but also to better prevent others from profiting off of them.
Are we entering the golden age of being a student-athlete?
In speaking with former athletes, they certainly wish they had the same rights as athletes today…It is absolutely progress, it’s a better place today than where we were a year ago or even a few months ago, but that doesn’t mean we should give up on making sure athletes have all the rights they should.
Why should fans and donors be excited about MarketPryce Florida?
They should be excited because it’s one element of the recruiting package. It’s unique. It’s distinguished from the same types of opportunities that may be presented by platforms to schools in an agnostic way, whereas here, at least for the time being, while UF is the only school involved with this new type of offering from MarketPryce, it provides a distinction and perhaps an advantage.
What’s the long-term impact of UF becoming “NIL-U” and a hotbed for student athlete sponsorship?
It absolutely has become and will continue to be an important part of how coaches and the athletic department recruit prospective athletes. We’ve already seen an emphasis placed on it.
I’ve read numerous articles, soundbites of athletes and coaches indicating just how important this is amongst athletes who are considering which school to go to.
You can’t negate the importance of winning, strong coaching, great facilities, and strong academics, but throw NIL in there. It’s going to increasingly be a part of the recruiting package.