While the game being played on the court this year will be the same, the game being played off the court has changed forever. With the new ruling allowing athletes to make money off of their name, image, and likeness (NIL), college sports will have a whole new dimension.
Although the opportunity to rake in some cash is exciting, it is brand new. Many athletes have been slow to take advantage of their NIL due to a simple lack of knowing how to best utilize the opportunity. While Cameo and merchandising is great, many athletes are patiently searching for chances to make even larger monetary gains. Some of these athletes are our very own Kentucky Wildcats: Blair Green and Rhyne Howard.
KSR sat down and talked with Green and Howard about the exciting, yet confusing world of NIL.
“I think it is a great opportunity for these athletes,” Green said. “But, it is new and every one is still trying to learn and get a feel for it, just like I am. I wanted to take a good strategy to this stuff. I’m really not trying to rush into anything just yet.”
Green is a Harlan County, Kentucky native and grew up in Wildcat country. She, more than anyone, knows the power of Big Blue Nation and the love they have for their athletes. While the chance to quickly cash in on fans’ love for UK athletics is tempting, Green is calmly throwing out her line in hopes to catch something big.
“I have some stuff planned and some things going in motion. But, really I’m just trying to take my time through it and not rush into any decisions and being able to do what’s best for me through communicating with people and asking questions,” Green said. “It’s just gonna take some time and navigating and wanting to do it the right way.”
If you think Green’s position must be thrilling, then just imagine how All-American Rhyne Howard is feeling. As one of the most recognized names in women’s college basketball, Howard’s opportunities are endless. Nonetheless, she too is putting her focus on more than just dollar signs.
“It’s a great opportunity, especially because a lot of people use our faces and stuff to promote things and we don’t get anything from it. So, now they can still promote us and it’ll be great,” Howard said. “It’s great publicity-wise because we’re still getting out there and people are going to have no choice but to check in to women’s college basketball.”
The changes brought on from NIL rulings not only will affect the athletes, but the popularity of college sports. Howard is wise enough to see this coming. Playing in women’s college basketball, a sport that has long been undervalued, can be exhausting. Yet, these new opportunities provide a platform for the sport to launch-off.
If anybody is going to benefit from gaining popularity with fans, it’s the Kentucky Wildcats. If the Kentucky Women’s Basketball team can have a great season on the court, they’ll be having just as much success off the court this upcoming season.