College swimmers now enjoying their NIL rights? Good for them


College swimmers now enjoying their NIL rights? Good for them

Generations of star swimmers have returned from incredible performances at the Olympics with the choice of taking the money they’ve earned and capitalizing on their market value, at a premium immediately after the Games, or coming back for another season or more in varsity swimming, the exciting first team format that every participant, elite Olympic hopeful or far from this level, cherishes. Almost all choose the college route, delaying their entry to the professional level and losing tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or in some cases millions of dollars.

From now on, swimmers no longer have to make this choice. Thanks to NCAA rule changes that allow athletes to take advantage of their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) rights, swimmers can win cash prizes and have sponsorships while maintaining their eligibility for the NCAA. Half of the US women’s team at the Tokyo Olympics are still NCAA eligible, as are a handful of US men, while many foreign swimmers such as the gold medalist in the women’s 100 fly. Maggie MacNeil and his Canadian compatriot Taylor ruck also compete in the NCAA. 100 butterfly men, third and fourth places Noah Ponti (Switzerland) and Andrei Minakov (Russia) are both linked to the NCAA, with plans to compete at NC State and Stanford, respectively.

Now these women and men can make money. And so much the better for them. Great for them, actually. They deserve to keep the awards they win, and they deserve the opportunity to make money when their profile is highest without having to sacrifice all-important NCAA eligibility to do so. Why should swimmers, who have such a narrow window to possible success, be forced to make this choice?

Of course, if some previous Olympians were a bit disappointed with the timing of this change, who could blame them?

Take Missy Franklin, for example. The Colorado native was just 17 when she captured the hearts of the United States and won four gold and one silver at the 2012 Olympics in London. Franklin was a star, but she chose not to go pro. She wanted to swim in college. Franklin eventually swam for Cal-Berkeley for two seasons, from fall 2013 to spring 2015, before turning pro, and she did well financially around and after her second Olympic campaign in 2016, but she never regained that. performance level of his high school years.

At the upcoming Olympics, three of the four biggest stars of the U.S. women’s team were college girls: Katie Ledecky, King Lily and Simone Manual. The male back gold medalist too Ryan Murphy, although he was only eligible for one more year in the university ranks. All turned down the money, and none wavered in their commitments to their universities, although Ledecky (two years) and Manuel (one year) would end up giving up some of their NCAA eligibility.

These swimmers did not have the chance to win any money. At a time, Michael phelps never swam in college because he chose to turn pro as a teenager. In the mid-2000s, the teenage world champions Katie hoff and Kate ziegler makes the same call.

Then, in 2019, 17 years old Regan smith was forced to consider her options. She had just broken world records in both backstroke events at the World Championships. She looked like a budding star. The movement to change the NIL rules had yet to gain momentum, and Smith was refusing any significant gains so that he could maintain his commitment to Stanford.

Luckily, the 2020 Olympics would be delayed for a year, just in time for the July 1 rule change that allowed the NIL era to begin in varsity athletics. And Smith was one of the first to take advantage of it, closing a deal with Speedo just days after completing her first Olympics, where she won three medals. Although she earned approval dollars, she will still compete in NCAA swimming.

“It’s definitely something I’ll never take for granted, just because I felt on both sides, definitely. I’m grateful to be able to have it now and still go to university, but I also know that two years ago at the Worlds, having to refuse what I had won, it was really difficult ”, a Smith said. “I just want to be extremely grateful that the rule change happened when it did and I was able to enjoy it and with a brand that I have dreamed of signing with since I started the sport. I never, ever wanted to take this opportunity for granted.

Torri Huske, another American Olympian and also bound for Stanford to start her college career, followed the same path she signed with TYR while maintaining her eligibility. Like Smith, Huske was only grateful for her agreement and how lucky she was to be one of the first sponsored athletes to compete in college.

“Obviously it’s really good for me so I’m really a fan of it. I think I’m very lucky, ”said Huske. “I don’t know what else to say other than how lucky I am because it’s falling into place right now. I think it’s really good for the athlete because he is able to build his image, in a certain way. I think it’s very lucky of me that this is happening right now.

No other NCAA-eligible swimmer has announced any major deals, although others have started working with agents and looking for marketing opportunities. Remember, NIL rights mean more than just traditional clothing sponsorships. Swimmers, even non-superstars, can promote a product on their Instagram pages and earn money.

And that’s awesome. All. Swimmers deserve the chance to profit from their market value whenever possible.

New earning opportunities

Until this year, when state legislatures and the US Congress exerted enough pressure on the NCAA to force a rule change, the organization had been dedicated to protecting its version of amateurism. The NCAA and member universities have used the term “student-athletes” for decades, emphasizing that it is students first and then athletes. Of course, the term has become a misnomer in sports like football and men’s basketball, where schools have made millions of dollars for their teams. College sports had turned professional in every way except one, that the athletes had no share of the profits.

Many prominent voices in college athletics have argued that universities should be allowed to pay their athletes, but we are not getting into this discussion. Either way, it is unlikely that any swimmers will receive direct university compensation for their abilities anytime soon. But the debate over NIL rights has come to the fore in recent years.

Why shouldn’t superstar players like former Clemson quarterback Trevor Laurent or former basketball star Duke Zion Williamson be able to earn money with endorsements? Why did less prominent athletes lose their scholarships because they were earning income unrelated to their athletic achievements? One of those players, the Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye, was declared ineligible to make a profit on a YouTube vlog.

And most relevant to this conversation, why shouldn’t Olympians be allowed to maximize their earning potential when they can, since swimming is only really in the spotlight every four years? Most college football and basketball stars will eventually reach the pro ranks and have plenty of time to make a name for themselves and earn money. For swimmers and other Olympians, this window is extremely limited. Swimming careers are short. This year’s US Olympic team had just two swimmers over the age of 27 (Allison schmitt and To M Shields), so not everyone was in college yet, still in college, or within five years of graduation.

The life of a professional swimmer is therefore short. New developments like the International Swimming League have broadened the earning potential of swimmers and established a roadmap for a larger population of swimmers to seriously pursue professional opportunities, but this NCAA rule change still has an impact. huge impact.

Now swimmers will be less faced with the decision to stay or to leave. They can continue to run in college and earn some money. Olympic 100 breaststroke champion Lydie Jacoby will head to the University of Texas in the fall of 2022, and she has no reason to waver in her engagement since she can take advantage of her NIL rights. silver medalist in the 1500 freestyle Erica Sullivan just arrived in Texas and has already signed with an agency, and the three University of Virginia IMers who won individual medals in Tokyo, Emma weyant, Alex walsh and Kate Douglass, are all in the same boat.

On the men’s side, there are far fewer college students who swam for the US team in Tokyo, but won the double distance freestyle gold medalist. Bobby finke has one more year at the University of Florida and maybe two, if he takes the fifth year of NCAA cleared due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 400 free bronze medalist Kieran smith is also a rising senior in Florida. Nine of American men have at least the opportunity to participate in college swimming this year while making money.

And this new rule could make NCAA swimming a more attractive proposition for international swimmers as well. Granted, MacNeil is the most prominent non-American in the NCAA right now, and we should expect Michigan’s rising senior to profit from the rule.

Obviously, the ramifications of this rule change extend far beyond swimming, but from that narrow focus, no longer having to choose between college swimming and going professional makes NCAA swimming better.

And for Smith, Huske and any other potential future employee, go ahead and take advantage of the opportunities available. Save money for the future or splurge now, whatever you choose. This payment is hard earned and deserved.


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