When it comes to NIL brand deals, female basketball players are the MVPs.
A surge in the sport’s popularity, increased viewership and highly-engaged social media audiences, have all helped women's basketball athletes set a record 186% year-over-year increase in new NIL deals with brands, according to a report by SponsorUnited, a sports and entertainment platform that tracks sponsorships and endorsements.
That level of growth seems steep, but the name, image and likeness space is still in its infancy. In the almost two years since the NCAA's NIL policy went into effect on July 1, 2021, marketers, universities and athletes themselves have become more comfortable and savvy when it comes to brand partnerships. Athletes have shown that they have both loyal followings and strong geographic ties. Now that brands and athletes have a better understanding of the legality of their partnerships, the deals have exploded.
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Angel Reese, who plays basketball for LSU, accounts for the highest deal volume for a female athlete in a single sport, with 17 deals. She's followed closely by twins Haley and Hanna Cavinder, who play for the University of Miami. College gymnasts Jordan Chiles (UCLA) and Olivia Dunne (LSU) also each have 16 deals.