Women’s NIL 100: Female College Athletes Earn The Most Money Playing These Sports

The definition of being a student athlete is beginning to change.

For the first time ever, college athletes are signing name, image and likeness deals, allowing them to earn a profit during their NCAA career.

For female athletes that are fortunate enough to be among the top-100 earners, those deals can amount to more than the salary of a professional athlete.

Female athletes in the Women’s NIL Top-100 stand to earn a staggering $13,500,800 in 2022, which averages out to about $135,008 per athlete.

While every player isn’t paid equally, NIL valuations are based on popularity, social media following, performance, and the relevance of their sport. Even though basketball is one of the most popular women’s sports in North America, basketball players aren’t the highest paid NIL athletes.

Overall, gymnasts dominate the women’s NIL top-100 list with highest averaged NIL deals.

On the other hand, basketball players were among the most well-represented athletes with 39 women’s basketball players landing on the list.

Read on to learn more about the NIL valuations for female athletes playing women’s college sports.

Gymnasts Tally Nearly Half of Total NIL Money in the Women’s NIL Top-100

NIL valuations are based on each individual student athlete.

Despite having just 22 athletes on the list, gymnasts account for 41.08 percent of the total NIL valuation in the top-100

Among the athletes on the list, gymnasts have the highest average NIL valuation at $252,090.91. Gymnasts in the top-100 make about $3,540.45 a post, more than top-earning athletes in any other sport.

In fact, the average NIL valuation for a gymnast is more than 10x higher than the average valuation for female golfers.

The discrepancy is due in part to the difference in social media followers among athletes in those two sports.

The average gymnast in the NIL top-100 has about 658,150 combined social media followers across Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter compared to just 25,298 for the average female golfer.

LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne ($2.4 million) and Auburn gymnast Sunisa Lee ($1.5 million) own the highest NIL valuations among all female athletes.

Dunne has leveraged her 8.5 million social media followers to pull in sponsorships from American Eagle, Vuori Clothing and many other fashion brands. Meanwhile, Lee has secured sponsorship deals with CLIF bars, Gatorade, the Voice in Sport Foundation, and several other companies.

Basketball Players Make Up 39% of Women’s NIL Top-100

NCAA women’s basketball draws the highest viewership out of any other female college sport.

So, it should come as no surprise that there are more basketball players (39) that fall in the top-100 than athletes from any other women’s sport.

While the top two NIL valuations belong to gymnasts, basketball players make up 70% of the top-10 earners.

Leading the charge, UConn guard Paige Bueckers owns the third-highest NIL valuation at $818,000 after signing deals with big name brands like Nike, Gatorade and Bose.

Women’s Basketball and Gymnastics Dominate NIL Landscape

While viewership and a player’s popularity may have a large impact on the NIL valuation for each athlete, gymnasts and basketball players aren’t the only female athletes cashing in.

Lucrative deals are also being offered to athletes in lacrosse, volleyball, softball, track, and soccer.

Based on the top-100, gymnasts earn NIL valuations that are, on average, 10x higher than female golfers and basketball players stand to earn 4x more than volleyball players.

For female athletes that are taking the field, softball players earn 3x more than lacrosse players. Meanwhile, the highest earning soccer player, Penelope Hocking, failed to make the top-100 list despite a healthy $18,800 NIL valuation.

For a complete breakdown of the NIL valuations for athletes in every sport, scroll down below.

Sport NIL Top-100 Athletes Total NIL Valuation Average NIL Valuation Percentage of Total NIL Value Total Per Post Value Average Value Per Post Percentage of Total Per Post Value
Gymnastics 22 $5,546,000 $252,090.91 41.08% $77,890 $3,540.45 40.84%
Basketball 39 $6,129,000 $157,153.85 45.40% $85,293 $2,187 44.72%
Track 10 $614,000 $61,400 4.55% $9,013 $901.30 4.73%
Softball 8 $452,000 $56,500 3.35% $6,792 $849 3.56%
Volleyball 18 $690,700 $38,372.22 5.12% $10,721 $595.61 5.62%
Golf 2 $50,000 $25,000 0.37% $760 $380 0.40%
Lacrosse 1 $19,100 $19,100 0.14% $256 $256 0.13%

Top Earning Female College Athletes By Sport

The amount of NIL money that female athletes can earn depends on which sport they decide to compete in.

LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne leads all NCAA women’s college athletes with a $2.4 million NIL valuation.

That number is nearly 3x more than UConn junior Paige Bueckers, the highest earning women’s college basketball player. With an NIL valuation of $818,000, Bueckers (No. 3 in the Women’s NIL Top-100) earns more than athletes in any other women’s sport outside of gymnastics.

Basketball players and gymnasts aside, Oklahoma State track star Tori Ortiz is the next-highest earner at $167,000. While that number was still high enough to land her at No. 18 in the top-100, her valuation is still 14x less than the top-earning gymnast and nearly 5x less than the highest earning women’s college basketball player.

According to the data, softball and volleyball players are next on the list of top-earning athletes by sport, followed by golfers, lacrosse players, and soccer players.

No matter the sport, female college athletes stand to earn more by staying in school. All of the highest earning females in their respective sports are upperclassmen.

For a breakdown of the female college athletes earning the most NIL money in each NCAA sport, check out the chart below.

Name School Year Sport Instagram Followers TikTok Followers Twitter Followers NIL Valuation Per Post Value
Olivia Dunne LSU Senior Gymnastics 2,300,000 6,200,000 33,000 $2,400,000 $33,000
Paige Bueckers UConn Junior Basketball 1,000,000 391,000 77,000 $818,000 $11,200
Tori Ortiz Oklahoma State Junior Track 121,000 565,000 14,700 $167,000 $2,300
Montana Fouts Alabama Senior Softball 146,000 179,000 38,000 $145,000 $2,200
Julia Bergmann Georgia Tech Senior Volleyball 119,000 N/A N/A $95,000 $1,300
Rachel Heck Stanford Junior Golf 22,000 1,000 4,500 $26,000 $390
Belle Smith Boston College Junior Lacrosse 15,300 3,200 N/A $19,100 $256
Penelope Hocking Penn State Senior Soccer 4,000 N/A 968 $18,800 $250
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