College athlete NIL market to be studied by joint research initiative

Tuesday, July 26, 2022


As college sports enters its second year in which student-athletes may earn money for their Name/Image/Likeness (NIL) rights, an educational initiative will gather empirical data on the NIL market to provide an understanding of how it is operating.

The non-profit NIL Education and Information Center, headed by sports industry veterans Oliver Luck and Bill Squadron, will partner with Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication to study this emerging NIL marketplace. Tableau, a leading analytics platform and Keyrus, will participate in this educational program by providing pro bono database management and data visualization services. Salesforce also supports this research initiative as part of its “Power of Us” program, which provides eligible nonprofits and educational institutions free or discounted technology. The initiative will leverage Salesforce as the ingestion tool for all NIL data.

The goal of the NIL Research Initiative is to develop a data-driven, transparent view of NIL activity in order to present a more accurate, complete understanding of the NIL landscape. With the support of faculty, Cronkite School students will collect data from various sources, including transactional platforms, university NIL collectives, school athletic departments and athletes, and produce stories and other content. Elon University students will also participate in the NIL Research Initiative.

A number of participants in the market have expressed support for the initiative, including IconSource, INFLCR and Opendorse, endorsing the value of having a reliable picture of how the NIL market is working. Entities that provide data will receive complete access to the national market information.

The collected data will immediately transfer to Tableau, which will organize the database, assist with the consistency of the data, and aid in safeguarding the confidential information provided by each individual deal. The joint initiative will publish periodic reports on the NIL market activity, beginning in 2023.

“With all of the swirling headlines and anecdotes, a data-driven effort to understand the NIL market is sorely needed,” said Luck, co-chair of the NIL-EIC, which was originally created to serve as the NCAA’s third-party administrator for its oversight of NIL activity.

“We are pleased to be a partner in this effort,” said Cronkite School Dean Battinto L. Batts Jr. “It reflects our role as a leader in providing the public with important insights on current events, and will be a great opportunity for our students to produce stories and content on this emerging area.”

“The college sports landscape is changing rapidly,” said Squadron, NIL EIC co-chair and an Assistant Professor of Sport Management at Elon University. “Sound policy and business decisions cannot be made without reliable information.” 

Contact Cronkite School media liaison, Jamar Younger, for interview opportunities at or 602-496-8667.

What others are saying about the NIL Research Initiative
“The LEAD1 Association has consistently advocated for a comprehensive national data base for Name, Image and Likeness deals for college athletes. We are pleased to learn of the NIL Research Initiative as it will fill an important void in establishing transparency for the NIL marketplace.” Tom McMillen, CEO LEAD1 Association 

“The NIL Research Initiative will be important in providing entities like Cavalier Futures information so that baseline data can be established in this evolving world of Name Image and Likeness.” Lo Davis, CEO of Cavalier Futures

Bill Squadron Biography

Bill Squadron

Bill Squadron is an Assistant Professor of Sport Management at Elon University and advisor to numerous companies in the sports industry. Prior to joining Elon, Mr. Squadron was a partner at the law firm of Morrison & Foerster and spent several decades as an executive in the sports media and technology sectors, including as co-founder and CEO of Sportvision, President of Bloomberg Sports and Special Counsel to Genius Sports. He received Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the media category for his work at Sportvision, and in 2019 received the Coro New York Rudin Award for Civic Leadership.

Oliver Luck Biography

Oliver Luck is a co-founder and Chairman of Altius Sports Partners, an NIL consulting firm. Previously, he has held executive positions at the XFL, NCAA, West Virginia University, the Houston Dynamo, the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority as well as at the NFL. Oliver played quarterback for the Houston Oilers for 5 seasons in the 1980’s. He has served on the National Football League Player Safety Advisory Panel, and as a member of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee and in various capacities in a number of university and community associations. He was a Rhodes Scholar finalist, a National Football Foundation Scholar and a two-time Academic All-American who received a B.A. degree from West Virginia University and a J.D. degree from the University of Texas School of Law

About the Cronkite School
The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is widely recognized as one of the nation’s premier professional journalism programs and has received international acclaim for its innovative use of the “teaching hospital” model. Rooted in the time-honored values that characterize its namesake — accuracy, responsibility, objectivity, integrity — the school fosters journalistic excellence and ethics in both the classroom and in its 13 professional programs that fully immerse students in the practice of journalism and related fields. Arizona PBS, one of the nation’s largest public television stations, is part of Cronkite, making it the largest media outlet operated by a journalism school in the world. Learn more at