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How much money did Gophers athletes make in NIL deals last year?

U football players announced last week they have set up an NIL club to provide exclusive access to fans via $199 memberships, with proceeds shared evenly between participating players

SPORTS-JOHN-SHIPLEY-BIG-TEN-EXPANSION-1-SP.jpg
Minnesota Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck leads his team onto the field at the start of an NCAA football game against Purdue at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Nov. 20, 2020.
John Autey/St. Paul Pioneer Press
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The name, image and likeness era of college athletics had its one-year anniversary on Friday, and if it were a growing child, the Gophers have begun to walk into this space.

The University of Minnesota has approximately 650 student-athletes in its athletics department and per the school’s interim policy, those players filed disclosure forms on more than 225 individual arrangements to be compensated for work done with outside companies or organizations, according to a Pioneer Press data records request fulfilled by the U in late June.

The Gophers and their supporters have plans to jog toward more NIL opportunities in Year 2.

U football players announced last week they have set up an NIL club to provide exclusive access to fans via $199 memberships, with proceeds shared evenly between participating players.

A third-party collective, which plans to assist U student-athletes in NIL deals, has been researching, filtering through ideas and feasible options for months. They are writing a business plan and expect a soft launch later this month, with a full rollout by the end of the year.

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in June 2021 that the NCAA cannot limit education-related benefits for athletes in the Alston vs. NCAA decision. It set the stage for NIL, which in the absence of federal law has been left to states.

Minnesota doesn’t have a state law affecting collegiate athletes, which helps keep the U policy with as “few barriers as possible,” U compliance director Jeremiah Carter said in an interview.

The U policy written and revised last summer follows NCAA rules prohibiting recruiting inducements and “pay for play,” where athletes are compensated for just being on the team. It does not allow for NIL work with alcohol or tobacco products, banned NCAA substances, weapons, gambling outfits or adult entertainment products or services.

Other restrictions include the use of U logos, when a student-athlete may fulfill NIL requirements, while the policy includes the U’s student-athlete code of conduct.

“We really haven’t had instances where we’ve had to say this would be a violation of our policy, so don’t do it,” Carter said. “We haven’t had issues where we needed to cite a student-athlete violating the code of conduct or anything like that. That’s a credit to our student-athletes and the way in which they carry themselves and the opportunities they choose to take.”

The records request from the Pioneer Press sought all disclosure forms since NIL started on July 1, 2021, and the school shared the information in the form of spreadsheets. The U redacted some columns under a state statute on student privacy, a school spokesman said. The undisclosed information included all personal details on the students as well as the businesses and agents involved.

Here are primary takeaways after distilling the U data in the first 11-plus months in the NIL landscape:

BREAKDOWN BY SPORT

— Football players represent roughly 18 percent of the student-athlete population but constituted 30 percent of the total NIL disclosures forms.

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— Minnesota’s men’s basketball and softball players were the next highest subsets. Those programs each had 10 percent of the NIL disclosures.

— Volleyball, wrestling, soccer, women’s hockey, women’s gymnastics and the men’s track and field/cross country teams ranged from 5 to 10 percent of the disclosures.

— Men’s hockey, women’s basketball and baseball lagged behind those peer groups with less than five percent of the approved deals.

TYPES OF DEALS

— The disclosure forms appeared to have categories for the type of work to be done for a business or organization and “social media” was checked in nearly 60 percent of all disclosures. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Cameo were listed.

— Appearances, autograph sessions and camps made up more than 20 percent of the remaining pie, while a catch-all “other” category and player’s “own business” rounded out the final 20 percent.

SOME DETAILS ON DEALS

— The amount of details players shared in the “brief description” of the NIL activity vary substantially based on the athlete.

— One wrestler wrote he will be “saying hi” during an appearance and listed payment at $2,000. One football player wrote he would be “hanging out in a tent” for an appearance and would receive $100.

— A volleyball player said in mid-June she would be “posting at least six (Snapchat) stories to her public profile per month” and had “potential for up to a 6-month partnership.” Monthly payments were listed at $1,000.15.

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— A few football players listed “eating competition” along with other responsibilities for an appearance last summer. Their compensation, per one disclosure, was “to be determined based on size”, presumably of the event.

— A women’s gymnast said she would be “working with clothing and jewelry brands” and would be able to purchase items at 30 percent of the sale price.

— Roughly 10 disclosures from football players in April were for a TV commercial. Most listed $250 as payment.

— For the most part, Gopher athletes are not getting rich — or even paying for too many daily expenses —with the deals listed in the disclosures across the first year of NIL.

GOING FOR GABLE

Wrestler Gable Steveson, honored last week as the Big Ten male athlete of the year, has been the most marketable player on the U campus. The Apple Valley native won Olympic gold at the Tokyo Games in August and another NCAA championship in March.

Before last season, the 22-year-old signed an NIL deal with WWE and it paved the way for him to return to campus, but that specific disclosure was not listed on U spreadsheets.

Meanwhile, the largest dollar amount shared on any disclosure form since last July was $13,000 as a wrestler said he was scheduled to make an appearance on Aug. 21. Steveson appeared at WWE Summer Slam in Las Vegas that day.

Olympics: Wrestling - Aug 6
Minnesota Gophers wrestler Gable Steveson poses with his gold medal at the medals ceremony for the men's freestyle 125kg wrestling competition during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games on Aug. 6, 2021, at Makuhari Messe Hall A.
Mandi Wright / USA Today Sports

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This story was written by one of our partner news agencies. Forum Communications Company uses content from agencies such as Reuters, Kaiser Health News, Tribune News Service and others to provide a wider range of news to our readers. Learn more about the news services FCC uses here.

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