The Highest-Paid Men and Women Student Athletes through NIL Valuation by Sport

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The advent of Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) deals has significantly impacted the landscape of college sports. These deals have opened new revenue streams for student-athletes, with some making millions through endorsements and sponsorships. In this article, we break down the top earners according to NIL valuation by sport, using the On3 NIL Valuation Index to compile our list.

For a comprehensive breakdown of the highest NIL valuations by sport, and see how factors like sport prominence, individual success, and social media presence contribute to these athletes’ NIL values, continue reading. For a detailed breakdown on how On3’s NIL value is calculated, click here.

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Highest NIL Valuation by College Sport

Men’s Highest NIL Valuation by Sport

College Basketball: Bronny James (USC) – $5.9 Million

Bronny James claims the highest NIL valuation in the whole of college sports at $5.9 million. The son of NBA legend LeBron James, Bronny has committed to play college basketball at USC and will be a freshman when the 2023/24 season begins.

A 5-star recruit, Bronny is expected to play one year in college before entering the NBA. With 7.1 million Instagram followers and 5.9 million TikTok followers, his massive social media presence has attracted deals with Nike, Beats by Dre, and Fast X. Bronny’s star power and potential for a short, impactful college career drive up his NIL valuation.

College Football: Caleb Williams (USC) – $2.6 Million

Caleb Williams, USC’s quarterback, has an NIL valuation of $2.6 million, making him the highest earner in college football. His spot as the top earner was under threat from incoming Texas QB Arch Manning, but with Manning likely not winning the starting job, Williams retains the title of college football’s highest NIL valuation at the moment.

As the likely first overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Williams has already secured deals with top brands like AT&T, Neutrogena, and Beats by Dre.

The 2023 Heisman Trophy favorite according to sportsbooks, Wiliams has a high NIL value due to his immense talent, projected NFL success, and USC’s expected run at the College Football Championship.

Men’s Track & Field: Sam Hurley (Texas) – $1.1 Million

Texas Longhorns’ junior decathlete Sam Hurley stands out in men’s track and field with a $1.1 million NIL valuation, thanks to his massive social media following. With over 5 million followers, including 3.5 million on TikTok and 1 million on Instagram, Hurley is the only track and field athlete to make the NIL 100 list.

His partnerships with Ralph Lauren, DoorDash, and GNC showcase the potential of leveraging social media fame to secure lucrative NIL deals. Originally planning to become a full-time influencer out of high school, Hurley chose to attend college when NIL monetization became an option, allowing him to maintain his social media career while competing as an athlete.

Men’s College Golf: Sam Bennett (Texas A&M) – $91k

Texas A&M’s Sam Bennett leads men’s college golf with a NIL valuation of $91,000. After finishing as the top amateur at the Masters and placing in the top-20 overall, Bennett’s NIL value has grown.

He has signed deals with Ping Golf and T-Mobile, and companies are eager to partner with talented young players like him. However, his NIL valuation remains significantly lower than top college basketball and football players.

College Baseball: Enrique Bradfield Jr. (Vanderbilt) – $59k

Enrique Bradfield Jr., a Vanderbilt junior centerfielder known for his speed, holds the highest NIL valuation in college baseball at $59,000. Despite being a top-10 MLB draft prospect, Bradfield’s valuation is significantly lower than those of Caleb Williams and Bronny James.

With over 90,000 social media followers, Bradfield has partnered with Gatorade, Bose, and Dick’s Sporting Goods, but his NIL value still falls short in comparison to football and basketball stars.

Men’s Soccer: RJ Stoller (Ohio State) – $19.1k


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In men’s college soccer, Ohio State goalkeeper RJ Stoller holds the highest NIL valuation at $19,100. While global soccer stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi dominate the list of highest-paid athletes, Stoller’s valuation is considerably lower than top US college sports.

With 2,200 social media followers, Stoller signed an NIL deal with Playa Bowls in 2022. The disparity between Stoller’s NIL value and that of athletes in more popular sports underscores the importance of marketability and sport prominence in determining NIL valuation.

Women’s Highest NIL Valuations by Sport

Women’s Gymnastics: Livvy Dunne (LSU) – $3.4 Million

Livvy Dunne, an LSU gymnast, holds the top NIL valuation for women in college sports at a staggering $3.4 million. With over 11 million social media followers across platforms, including 7.4 million TikTok followers and 3.5 million Instagram followers, Dunne’s online presence is a significant driver of her NIL value.

She recently made history as the first college athlete to sign an NIL deal with Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, and her other partnerships include Body Armor, ESPN, Forever 21, and American Eagle. Dunne’s NIL valuation compares favorably to those of male athletes like Caleb Williams and Bronny James.

Women’s Basketball: Angel Reese (LSU) – $1.4 Million

LSU’s Angel Reese boasts a $1.4 million NIL valuation, thanks to her team’s 2023 National Championship victory and her own standout performances. After her spirited title game celebrations, Reese has become a household name, even signing a deal to appear in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

Following the Cavinder sisters’ departure from college basketball for WWE, Reese has filled the void with her on-court success and Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition appearance.

She now has over 4 million social media followers and has signed NIL deals with Raising Cane’s, Sonic, and Bose.

Women’s Track: Tori Ortiz (Oklahoma State) – $188k

Tori Ortiz, a junior sprinter from Oklahoma State, holds an NIL valuation of $188,000. With nearly 800,000 social media followers, Ortiz’s popularity demonstrates the importance of a strong social media presence for college athletes.

She recently signed with WWE’s Next in Line program, which aims to identify and develop talented athletes for future WWE opportunities like the aforementioned Cavinder twins.

Women’s Soccer: Kenlee Newcom (Western Kentucky) – $140k


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Kenlee Newcom, a defender for Western Kentucky, has an NIL valuation of $140,000, making her the highest-valued female college soccer player. With over half a million TikTok followers and 100,000 Instagram followers, Newcom’s strong social media presence contributes significantly to her NIL value.

She credits her faith for her soccer success, stating, “Faith is the only reason I’ve made it this far in my soccer career. Every time I step foot on the field I know I’m playing to glorify Him.”

Interestingly, Newcom’s NIL valuation is over seven times larger than the NIL valuation of the top male college soccer player.

Softball: Montana Fouts (Alabama) – $140k

Alabama’s Montana Fouts leads the way in college softball with an NIL valuation of $140,000. The most-followed softball player, Fouts has over 380,000 social media followers and has leveraged her online presence to host the Montana Fouts Pitching Camp.

As a standout performer, Fouts recently threw her second perfect game of the 2023 season, further boosting her NIL value as she garners more media attention.

Women’s Volleyball: Alexa Hendricks (Louisville) – $119k

Louisville senior defensive specialist Alexa Hendricks has a NIL valuation of $119,000, with 363,000 social media followers to her name. Her partnerships with Adidas, Pepsi, and Jersey Mike’s have helped boost her NIL value, and she also offers personalized videos on her Cameo page for $30 each.

Though her valuation doesn’t match that of top female athletes in other sports, it still surpasses those of male athletes in less prominent college sports.

Women’s Golf: Rachel Heck (Stanford) – $25k

Stanford sophomore Rachel Heck has an NIL valuation of $25,000, far below that of male golfer Sam Bennett. With 29,000 social media followers, her NIL value is limited compared to other female athletes with larger followings. However, Heck’s deals with Nike and her role in Stanford’s 2022 National Championship win have contributed to her NIL valuation.

Data Summary

The data reveals a wide range of NIL valuations among college athletes, with some female athletes like Livvy Dunne and Angel Reese earning valuations comparable to their male counterparts. Factors such as sport prominence, individual success, and social media presence play a significant role in determining an athlete’s NIL valuation.

While some female athletes are experiencing significant success with their NIL deals, there is still room for improvement in leveling the playing field across different sports and genders.

Overall, the introduction of NIL deals has transformed the college sports landscape, providing student-athletes with new opportunities for financial gain and exposure. It is clear that a strong social media presence is crucial for college athletes to maximize their NIL valuations, as demonstrated by the top earners in various sports.

Additionally, the success of female athletes in NIL deals signals a positive shift in the world of college sports, as more women are beginning to achieve recognition and financial rewards for their talents and hard work.

As NIL deals continue to evolve, it will be interesting to see how college athletes leverage their online platforms and on-field success to further enhance their NIL valuations. For now, it’s clear that college athletes across various sports are benefiting from the opportunities presented by NIL deals, paving the way for a new era of financial empowerment in collegiate sports.

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