College Athletes Should Be Able To Profit From The Sale Of Their Own NFTs. Here's How That Could Work

·3 min read

The 2021 NFL draft was quietly one of the most groundbreaking NFL drafts in history. This has nothing to do with COVID or the players that were picked. Rather, there was an underlying theme that crypto and digital assets can change the way franchises do business.

Heading into the first round on Thursday night, the consensus number one overall pick, QB Trevor Lawrence, sold his NFT collection for $225k. Surely he could have used that cash more as a college student than a pro athlete.

There’s no doubt that future professional athletes will also look to capitalize on selling digital assets. Additionally, with new NCAA guidelines that now allow players to profit from their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), college players will also look to sell NFTs way before they are eligible to go pro.

The key will be to design a program that satisfies all stakeholders involved: the players, the university, the fans, and, of course, the NCAA.

Digital assets such as NFTs can provide a solution. Here is an example of what the program looks like for a D1 Football player at an elite program:

  • First day freshman year each player is given a distinct number of tokens (e.g. 50) to sell as NFTs

  • Player and university each get a percentage profit from the initial sale

  • Player profits from sale on the secondary market

  • Fans and holders of the football program’s NFTs get exclusive access to content and other program offerings.

Digital assets are highly transparent in nature and cannot be sold on the black market. Therefore, the NCAA can easily track every transaction as legitimate.

Token owners will be fans who get special access to team information or rewards like prioritized seating, gear, events, and appreciation of the value of the token as the player performs well. Imagine being the owner of Tom Brady’s freshman year Michigan NFTs.

To incentivize the players to be student-athletes and not simply athletes, they can be rewarded with additional tokens for good grades and academic performance.

Furthermore, at the start of each season, their tokens can increase. For example, the beginning of each season could look like this:

  • Seniors receive 400 tokens

  • Juniors receive 200 tokens

  • Sophomores receive 100

  • Freshman receive 50

  • +500 tokens for graduating

By this math, a student who stayed four years and graduated will have earned 1250 tokens. This incentivizes students to stay in school and lowers the opportunity costs of staying until graduation.

Take Trevor Lawrence for example. He went pro after his junior season and sold his NFTs for $225k. By the method above he’d have 350 tokens valued at $642 per token. If he stayed in school for a senior season and graduated (a total of 900 more tokens) he could earn an extra $577k.

Certainly, not all athletes will be bound for the NFL or go pro, yet there will still be demand from dedicated fan bases. It also increases rewards for athletes who invest time and energy into being on scholarship yet have no chance of going pro. For the athletes that will turn pro, the proceeds of the sale of the tokens can help support them financially until they are drafted.

In summary, digital assets can help align incentives:

  • Players: Profit from NIL

  • University: Profit from sale of tokens, increase fan engagement, top recruits attend university instead of opting out of college for minor leagues

  • Fans: Increased engagement with team and favorite program

  • NCAA: emphasizes “student first” mentality for athletes, rewards athletes who stay in school longer

In a new age of collegiate athletics, NFTs can be the solution the NCAA has been looking for.

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