NIL in the Northland

Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 11:03 PM CDT
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DULUTH, MN. (CBS 3 Duluth) - It’s a new era of college sports with name, image, and likeness, also known as “NIL”, starting to dominate the landscape. College athletes are now able to profit off of their own image and it’s happening right here in the Northland.

Athletes across the country can make millions of dollars thanks to NIL and while millions aren’t made in the Northland, some athletes are getting endorsements.

UMD men’s hockey star, Blake Biondi says, “I think NIL is something that has been debated a long time and it’s finally kind of coming through, and yeah it’s been fun.”

The Hermantown native has a deal with The Rink Live, a website that focuses on hockey.

“Promoting stuff on social media, retweeting their stuff, reframing stuff then just individual creative posts that you post on Instagram that you just tag them in, just mostly trying to grow their platform but also have your own little twist on it,” said Blake when talking about his obligations for the website.

NIL is a new feel for athletes. For decades, colleges reaped almost all the benefits of their athlete’s success. But now, that success can help the athlete in more ways than one.

Eagan, MN native, Taylor Anderson on UMD’s women’s hockey team is promoting a number of products.

“Liquid IV, Bublr, and athletic fitness brand ATM Athletics, and then I also do stuff with Royalty Sports. I do photos for them and I also do some promoting of their clothing because it’s a clothing brand as well,” said Taylor when talking about all the businesses she has deals with.

Duluth native, Shay Callaway, plays for UMD’s women’s tennis team and represents a local company, All-Star Nutrition in Duluth.

Shay said, “It’s pretty awesome, especially as a college kid, groceries aren’t cheap housing is not cheap, tuition is astronomically not cheap but the amount of money I have saved already with the discounts and everything like that has really been noticeable.”

The deals will not stop moving forward at various levels throughout the NCAA.

“Being a collegiate athlete is a lot of work and being rewarded back for the work that everyone puts in, I believe it is a great deal and people should take advantage of it,” added Callaway.

Possibly the most nationally well-known from the Northland is a group of “hockey guys”.

UW-Superior hockey players have more than 1.3 million followers on Tik Tok, giving them immense opportunities like traveling to pro hockey arenas, doing bits, and endorsing products.

NIL is here to stay; athletes hope to benefit while making a difference in their sport.

Taylor Anderson said, “There’s a lot of room to grow and I think it would be awesome to see more girls get brand deals, have brands like CCM and Bauer have girls sponsored. I think stuff like that can really help grow women’s hockey.”

Hermantown native Biondi said, “Just promoting the game I think it’s just an awesome thing. It’s really cool and just the roots going back to Hermantown and then obviously UMD, promoting it all is just awesome.”

NIL doesn’t stop at the collegiate level. Just last month, the Minnesota State High School League approved NIL for prep athletes allowing them also to generate revenue on their name, image and likeness.

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