Untapped Potential: An Examination of Name, Image, and Likeness Earnings Estimates for Community College Athletes

Adam R. Cocco – University of Louisville
Anita M. Moorman – University of Louisville

The purpose of this study was to examine the name, image, and likeness (NIL) value of community college athletes, thereby extending the NIL conversation in college athletics to this population of student-athletes. The NIL value of these athletes was examined by treating them as potential social media marketing influencers with standard influencer marketing rates applied to estimate earnings potential. Follower and engagement data were systematically scraped from Instagram profiles for a sample of California community college athletes (n = 1,168) and used to calculate NIL value estimates. Results suggested approximately five percent of athletes possessed a monetizable Instagram profile. Male athletes had a higher ceiling for NIL earnings potential, but female athletes displayed a higher average earnings potential ($51 per post) compared to male athletes ($47 per post). These findings demonstrate the value in promoting NIL opportunities for community college athletes. Thus, community college athletes should receive a more prominent voice in the nationwide NIL conversation and receive access to similar NIL educational opportunities as provided to athletes at four-year institutions. Additionally, community colleges should recognize the NIL value of their female athletes and promote them in an equitable manner to foster NIL opportunities for female athletes.