The addition of NIL into college sports has brought huge changes to the landscape of college and professional sports in the United States. For better or for worse, college athletes now have the opportunity to create a platform for themselves and monetize off it.
While some schools and leagues see the negatives of NIL, the WNBA overall sees NIL as a positive. For the WNBA, expanding the popularity of athletes in college before they enter the WNBA brings more viewers as the fans of those athletes follow them from college to the pros.
WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert spoke on the impacts of NIL, particularly some of the huge partnerships these women's college basketball players have. “They've got Nike and Adidas. They've got Powerade and Gatorade. They have Mercedes and State Farm,” Engelbert said. “It's just going to be really interesting to see those players come into our league with big followings and see what that does to lift the viewership and the engagement in our league,” via Margaret Fleming of Business Insider.
Many of the current top women's stars in college basketball have hundreds of thousands if not millions of social media followers. Establishing their huge followings early on has allowed them to garner deals they can carry into the WNBA since many schools already have large followings and the WNBA is still growing. Two of college basketball's biggest stars, Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark, have capitalized on this as they've landed deals with PlayStation, McDonald's, State Farm and more. Now, the WNBA hopes to benefit from it as well.
“We'll just continue to look for the way we can benefit off the momentum of the women's game,” Engelbert said.