FORT WORTH, Texas — Not long after he decided to skip his senior season at Carroll High School, quarterback Quinn Ewers signed a $1.4 million autograph deal.
A year ago, that wouldn’t have been possible. But these days, college athletes are now signing six- and seven-figure deals after an NCAA rule change.
Now, athletes can make money off their name, image and likeness, or NIL. This spring TCU will be opening up a NIL class, one of the first in the country.
“NIL is in its infancy, so there’s a lot of potential for this,” said Rodney D’Souza, TCU’s director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“It all started when athletics came to us and said, ‘hey, is there anything that y’all can do for us, and we can partner?'” recalled Antonio Banos, who will be teaching the class. “We said, ‘Ok, what are the domains that we feel that athletes are going to need now, student-athletes?'”
In just three weeks, they developed a curriculum focused on several areas:
- brand management
- business formation
- financial literacy
- contract management
- taxation and legal issues
- cryptocurrency and NFTs, and
- mental health and wellbeing
“Academics usually doesn’t work at the speed that this whole thing came about,” D’Souza said.
Banos is teaching the class and said he has been getting up to 15 emails a day from students wanting to sign up.
“Student athletes are now their own businesses,” Banos said. “They have their own personal business brand.”
For now, there are just 45 spots - but the class is not just open to athletes.
"There’s a whole world that is opening up for those students who want to be agents and attorneys,” Banos added.
The University of Louisville, University of Colorado, University of Nebraska and a few other colleges have similar programs, but D’Souza believes TCU's program separates itself from others because it doesn’t just get athletes in front of brands, but prepares them for that moment and helps develop their brand in advance.
“We are activating a network that includes faculty, that includes folks from the outside community, that includes mentors,” D’Souza listed.
Head football coach Gary Patterson recently encouraged boosters to sign athletes to stay on par with top schools in recruiting that can woo players with deals.
NIL opportunities have already taken off. TCU said it’s racing to stay ahead.
“It’s a space that we really don’t know what’s going to happen, but we know that we’re going to have them ready as it develops and as it evolves," Banos said.