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Lessons Learned at NIL Summit

by Brad Muller

A pair of South Carolina women’s soccer student-athletes recently took part in the NIL Summit in Atlanta to learn more about maximizing their possibilities for Name, Image, and Likeness and building their own brand. Rising juniors Taylor Jacobson and Brigitte Bussiere took part in the three-day event for which the purpose was to provide student-athletes from across the nation a chance to share ideas and collaborate alongside transformative brands and organizations that are shaping the future of college sports.

“The biggest thing that hit home for me is that NIL is really for anyone who wants to hustle and get after it,” Bussiere said. “At first, I thought NIL was just for the big ‘stars.’ I didn’t think NIL would be for me because I haven’t been a star player. The big thing they harped on was that NIL is for everyone. Everyone can use their platform. It was really cool to hear that, not only from the professional speakers that were there, but also from the athletes.”

“They emphasized things like showing what you are really passionate about outside of athletics,” Jacobson said. “If it’s cooking and making food, post that. Sometimes people get scared to put themselves out there. You have to promote yourself and invest in yourself.”

The Gamecocks enjoyed a “red carpet” night to kick things off followed by a couple of days of guest speakers, workshops, and panel discussions along with chances to interact with numerous businesses and influencers in the NIL marketplace.

“It was sort of like a business expo for NIL with lots of tables out where you could speak to lots of different people,” Bussiere said. “There were a lot of informational seminars and panels that were also very helpful. All the speakers were great, and I really loved the seminars.”

“There were lots of different topics, including financial management,” Jacobson said. “You could be making all this money, but you have to learn the best ways to save your money and get tips on how to invest your money. Other topics included being a creator and becoming an influencer. People want to see what you’re doing outside of just being an athlete. So, really engaging with your fans on social media can be really important because that’s what can get you more support, and overall, you’re going to develop better relationships. You won’t be just a number of someone on the field. They can get to know you more. You also have to have balance in being an athlete, taking care of yourself, and promoting yourself on social media. They also talked about the importance of maintaining good mental health.”

“I’m figuring out what my values are, and aligning those with other brands that have those same values.”
Taylor Jacobson  . 

With information in hand, the Gamecocks are excited about exploring the NIL space further, while also remaining authentic to their beliefs and passions.

“I really wanted to take advantage of the opportunities that we have in being a college athlete,” Jacobson said. “Making some money while being an athlete is a pretty cool thing. I’m figuring out what my values are, and aligning those with other brands that have those same values.”

“There was a lot of information about building our platform, and that means just being ourselves and not pretending to be something that you’re not,” Bussiere said. “You need to stay true to yourself when looking at any deals you may want to take. You don’t have to take everything that’s offered to you, but you should look for things that you’re passionate about. Moving forward, I have that reassurance that this is for anyone who wants it. A big part of it is you pursuing the companies yourself and knowing that things aren’t going to just be handed to me. It made me excited for the future. It opened my eyes that there are opportunities for everyone who wants it.”

While NIL is still relatively new in the collegiate landscape, more education is a great benefit to the student-athletes, and South Carolina’s Altius NIL Partner Services Manager Joe Shepard is also helping to bridge the gaps.

“There is always going to be more to learn,” Bussiere said. “I had recently created a deal with a training organization, and at first, I didn’t know where to start. Joe was very helpful in that process. The NIL Summit really helped, and I also appreciate the resources we have at South Carolina to helps us navigate this.”

“This is only the second year that they did this (Summit), and I think it was very helpful,” Jacobson said. “Getting a chance to network and talk with other student-athletes is only going to help you in the long run.”