NIL Marketing Partnerships 2023–24

March 20, 2024

The sponsorship landscape underwent a monumental transformation in 2021 with the introduction of Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) policies, which enabled student–athletes to monetize their personal brands for the very first time. Since the implementation of NIL, the collegiate sports industry has witnessed a flurry of activity, with athletes engaging in endorsements, sponsorships, and personal brand initiatives.

Some highlighted stats include:

  • 35% of brands invest exclusively in NIL athletes versus major pro sports athletes
  • Hey Dude Shoes has the highest volume of NIL deals with 78 deals across all sports
  • Apparel & Accessories is the most active category in NIL with 591 deals
  • Football accounts for the majority of NIL deals, representing 30% of the total number of deals


This report offers an in-depth analysis of brand endorsements and social media collaborations across 17 college sports. Compiled using SponsorUnited's proprietary platform, the data encompasses more than 1,750 brands, 3,000 deals, and 3,150 posts by collegiate athletes. Athletes selected in the report are from the following sports:

  • Cheerleaders
  • College Aquatics Athletes
  • College Baseball Athletes
  • College Basketball Athletes (Men)
  • College Basketball Athletes (Women)
  • College Football Athletes
  • College Golf Athletes (Men)
  • College Golf Athletes (Women)
  • College Gymnastics (Women)
  • College Hockey Athletes (Men
  • College Hockey Athletes (Women)
  • College Lacrosse Athletes
  • College Soccer Athletes (Men)
  • College Soccer Athletes (Women)
  • College Softball Athletes
  • College Tennis Athletes
  • College Track & Field Athletes
  • College Volleyball Athletes (Women)
  • College Wrestlers
  • High School Athletes

Social data was collected using SponsorUnited's social media tracking metrics—namely "Total Engagement" and "Followers Engaged" (Engagement Rate)—and compiled from property or person-controlled Instagram, Facebook, X (Twitter), TikTok, and LinkedIn accounts and social activity. This report was jointly authored by SponsorUnited's Marketing and Analytics teams, using data from February 23, 2023 – February 23, 2024.

About SponsorUnited:

Launched in 2018, SponsorUnited is the leading global sports and entertainment intelligence platform, delivering actionable data and insights to build stronger marketing partnerships. We provide unrivaled knowledge across the sponsorship and media landscape so our clients can make impactful decisions that drive business.

With over 340,000 brands, 1.6 million deals, and 11.4 million data points across sports, entertainment, media, and talent, our SaaS database enables brands, rights holders, and agencies to partner more effectively. By delivering real-time trends, on-demand research, and the most comprehensive data available, we connect the entire sponsorship ecosystem and are rewriting the partnership playbook.

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