Changes to NCAA


regulations invite

new business


Words by Pier Duncan,

Marjua Estevez, Travers Johnson

Illustrations by Richard A. Chance

For decades, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) controversially restricted athletes’ ability to earn financial compensation beyond their scholarships, including some side opportunities unrelated to athletics. Student athletes bore the brunt of the NCAA’s ludicrous list of sanctions, at worst robbing them of any safety net when injured or trying to make everyday-ends meet.

However, after court rulings against the organization’s regulations, including a unanimous one by the Supreme Court, the NCAA officially ratified new rules on July 1, 2021, allowing collegiate athletes to monetize their fame for the first time. The new Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) policy change represents a landmark decision in the history of US amateur sports—a multi-billion-dollar industry that has, until now, denied all of its sportspeople the opportunity to make their own money.

“It is really exciting to finally see the inclusion of student-athletes on the business side of college athletics,” says Jim Tanner, president of Tandem Sports + Entertainment. “The NCAA's popularity, visibility, and profitability have been built by the many talented men and women who have donned college jerseys. It is long overdue that they can now monetize their impact and appeal through NIL.”  

However, college athletes aren’t the only ones poised to benefit from the NIL policy. The new rules open up opportunities for entrepreneurs to build businesses supporting this new industry and also possibilities for Black-owned brands to partner with influential college athletes. 

Keep reading for insights on emerging trends in this industry, examples of how some Black businesses have already begun to serve this burgeoning market, and predictions from experts on the future of college-athlete influencer deals. 

Athlytic Provides an AI-Powered Solution to College Athlete Financial Woes

The mobile marketplace offers a one-stop shop for athletic influencers to monetize their name, image, and likeness over their athletic career lifecycle

Words by Marjua Estevez

Jared Eummer, Co-founder of Athlytic

Growing up, business partners Jared Eummer and Ashton Keys watched several athletes come out of their respective Brooklyn and Detroit neighborhoods without the ability to profit from their talents at the peak of their influence. Not even in the digital age could student athletes capitalize on their social media presences like today’s omnipresent media and entertainment influencers.

This is not a new issue. Eummer, a Florida A&M University alumnus, cites a startling statistic from a 2011 National College Players Association study that found “86% of student athletes [were] living below the poverty lines while participating in their sports” at that time. It was from this long drawn-out injustice and concerted business foresight that Eummer and Keys gave birth to Athlytic.

They developed a fully integrated mobile marketplace that gives student athletes the opportunity and sophistication to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL). “Our mission is to massively decrease that 86% within our community.” 

Student athletes have long been influencers, and a marketplace like Athlytic provides opportunities for them to be paid, ultimately allowing them more time to focus on their craft and academics.

“We witnessed several athletes previously lose out on eligibility to play if they received funds or additional benefits. Following the recent legislation, we spoke with over 400 current and former student athletes, athletic administrators, parents, mentors, and brands to ensure that we create the top solution in the market for this groundbreaking change in the industry.” 

Athlytic uses real-time data and AI to ensure that both brands and athletes have the most seamless marketplace experience to facilitate campaign deals. Their proprietary vetting and verification processes aim to pair the right brands and athletes for mutually beneficial partnerships.  

Before the NCAA’s recent changes went into effect, Athlytic secured $67,000 for their venture: $25,000 as the grand prize winner of the Rebrand Black pitch competition sponsored by Rebrand Cities, and $42,000 from the 2020 MTN DEW Real Change Opportunity fund.“ Student athletes need representatives that understand what they go through on a day-to-day basis,” Eummer doubles down on Athlytic’s future stake in sports. “We can create organic partnerships that will make these players even more marketable following their agreements.”

The NCAA still prohibits colleges and universities from paying athletes salaries and providing benefits like professional sports leagues, but Eummer says that the NIL change is a step in the right direction. “The future is bright for Black men and women in college sports. There is a great group at the top of the industry advocating, empowering, and championing the next generation of athletes and entrepreneurs.” 


Some of the new NIL deals and emerging sports industry figures to watch in 2022

Hercy Miller x Web Apps America

Hercy Miller, the son of rapper-entrepreneur Master P and previously a freshman point guard at Tennessee State University, signed a reported $2 million NIL deal with Web Apps America, a technology-services company, in July 2021. After suffering a season-ending injury in fall 2021, Miller announced that he was transferring from TSU to Xavier University. However, his NIL deal remains intact as long as he is a college athlete.

The Black Sportswoman

Founded by Atlanta-based multimedia storyteller Bria Felicien, The Black Sportswoman is a rising media platform dedicated to amplifying the stories of Black women athletes. It provides extensive coverage of college athletes, including profiles of historic athletes and college sports coaches.

Antwan Owens x 3 Kings Grooming

Jackson State University defensive end Antwan Owens became one of the first college athletes to sign a NIL deal when he partnered with Black-owned 3 Kings Grooming. The partnership was seen by experts as a good example of the natural synergy between Black athletes and Black-owned brands.

Maddie Johnson x Q30 Innovations

University of Detroit Mercy lacrosse star Maddie Johnson made history when she became the first Black female lacrosse player to sign an NIL deal. Johnson partnered with Q30 Innovations to promote their Q Collar product, a non-invasive device designed to help reduce traumatic brain injury.

Athlete Prep

Founded by former college football player and Wall Street alum Kalvin Robinson, Athlete Prep is a non-profit organization that provides high school and college athletes with financial-literacy education and career placement opportunities.


We asked sports agents and entrepreneurs to share their insights and predictions on the emerging trends, innovations, and business opportunities that will shape Black college athletics in 2022 and beyond.

A Boon for Black Brands

“The first official NIL deal was done by Black hair care company 3 Kings Grooming and Jackson State defensive lineman Antwan Owens. This should be a beacon for other Black companies and entrepreneurs to follow, meaning working with Black athletes and HBCU programs and their athletes. College sports is a prime opportunity for businesses to reach Black audiences through Black athletes, so Black entrepreneurs, particularly those with hair, skin, beauty, and health products should flock to this market through NIL pursuits.”

Yussuf Khan, CEO & Founder, The Khanate Group

From Student-Athlete to Entrepreneur-Athlete

“The immediate opportunity is for Black athletes to position themselves as entrepreneurs…starting a small business with themselves as the primary asset. With that comes control, education, and income. These student-athletes, especially the individuals that will transition into the professional ranks, will have an opportunity to create an authentic brand that can generate revenue far after their time playing has ended. They will be more than ambassadors; they’ll be partners.”

Jim Tanner, President, Tandem Sports + Entertainment

HBCUs On the Rise

“An exciting development is the hiring of former NFL players as head football coaches at HBCU programs. Names like Tyrone Wheatley, Deion Sanders, and Eddie George have brought excitement, credibility, and opportunity to HBCU programs that have been fighting for recognition and revenue for years. And with names like Marshall Faulk and others surfacing, this trend will continue to be a significant boon for HBCU programs.”

Yussuf Khan, CEO & Founder, The Khanate Group

Opportunities for Olympic Sports

“Football players, like the sport itself, will always reap the largest benefit because [football] generates the biggest ratings, fan base, and revenue for every school. But with the success of Olympic athletes such as Gable Steveson and Sha’Carri Richardson (even though she turned pro), other sports like wrestling and track and field will have the opportunity to secure NIL deals. These Olympic sports will also benefit from the new conference media deals. They include broadcast requirements for these sports, so they will get exposure they previously lacked.”

Yussuf Khan, CEO & Founder, The Khanate Group

Partnerships in Prohibited Categories

“I believe NIL deals will continue to grow, and eventually open up to categories that were once prohibited such as alcohol/beer. Money can change decisions and rules very quickly, so after a few years I wouldn’t be surprised to see the cannabis category enter the NIL landscape. But athletes need to be smart about the deals they sign and understand what they’re getting into. They could have detrimental effects on their brand, futures, and financial aid (if they’re not scholarship athletes).”

Yussuf Khan, CEO & Founder, The Khanate Group


Jim Tanner is President of Tandem Sports + Entertainment, a full-service agency with expertise in athlete management, talent representation, marketing, communications, and publicity services. Clients include professional athletes, broadcasters, coaches, industry executives, and sports organizations. 

Yussuf Khan is CEO & Founder of The Khanate Group, a minority-owned and operated sports, media, tech, eCommerce, and health and fitness-focused company fully committed to supporting, and investing in, underserved and overlooked communities and individuals of color. Their flagship brand is sports media property First and Pen, which informs, inspires, and connects through voices of color in sports.