July 1, 2021. One year ago today, the sports world endured one of the biggest transformations athletes, fans and sports executives have ever witnessed. With the implementation of NIL regulations, athletes nationwide were able to monetize their name, image, and likeness for the first time. We leveraged an incredible growth opportunity and built an in-house function dedicated to supporting talent and brands with NIL support – from negotiating partnerships to ensuring compliance across the board.

Talent Representation

Our approach with NIL recruiting and representation mirrors our process working with professional athletes. Our goal is to educate our talent on the opportunities to monetize their name, image and likeness.

In July 2021, high school basketball phenom Mikey Williams joined the Excel family and became the first high school athlete to sign with a major sports representation agency. The signing was announced and picked up by major sports news outlets, including a full feature on ESPN’s broadcast. In October, Williams announced a partnership with PUMA, making him the first American high school basketball player to sign a sneaker deal with a global footwear company.

JR Smith joined the Excel family as he transitioned from retired NBA champion to collegiate golfer. Our team negotiated a deal with Lululemon, making JR the first male golfer to sign with the apparel company as a brand ambassador.

South Carolina women’s basketball player and national champion, Zia Cooke, signed with Excel and quickly became one of the highest paid NIL athletes. Cooke began working with brands including H&R Block, DoorDash and Bojangles.

Top college and high school men’s basketball players including Dariq Whitehead, Kyle Filipowski, Matthew Filipowski, Marcus Bagley and Trayce Jackson-Davis have also joined the Excel family. Caroline Ducharme, Lauren Betts and Bree Hall represent the women’s basketball players, and Rachel Heck, Rose Zhang and Michael Thorbjornsen have tee’d up a ton of interest from brands spending in college golf. NCAA National Champion and 13x All-American track and field athlete, Matthew Boling, joined the Excel family in September 2021 and he’s running on Dunkin’ in his latest NIL deal.

Brand Marketing

With NIL kicking off in the middle of the year (July 2021), brands may not have had resources or budget allocated to support NIL campaigns. Our Brand Marketing team, which works with brands including Red Bull, Under Armour, MassMutual, PWC, Vista, 2K and HSS, became a go-to solution for brands implementing fully integrated NIL campaigns.

Outback Steakhouse hired our Brand Marketing team to develop and launch the brand’s TeamMATES campaign. The team ensured compliance and negotiated deals with each of the football, basketball, baseball and softball NIL athletes, while coordinating photo shoots and managing social media posts. The brand also hired our Communications team to promote the campaign through earned media coverage. The team secured placements in Adweek, AdAge, Bloomberg, Sports Illustrated, Fast Company, USA Today, and more.

Analytics

Through the acquisition of Block Six Analytics, we added an industry-leading data insights and partnership valuation function in-house. Now operating as Excel Analytics, the group has become an extremely vital asset in evaluating NIL opportunities for talent and brands, including Outback Steakhouse.

Separate from providing valuable insights that drove NIL negotiations, the Excel Analytics team leveraged its proprietary technology, algorithms, models, and insights to conduct industry research around major sporting events throughout the year.

Following the NCAA Football National Championship Game, the group measured the value increases of athletes who performed well throughout the College Football Playoff. The team found that Georgia cornerback Kelee Ringo had an 83 percent increase in his NIL value following his record-setting and game-deciding interception.

Read more here: Georgia Versus Alabama: Which Players Could Score Big in NIL?

During the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Tournaments, the Excel Analytics team ran an in-depth analysis of the NIL value for top performers from Final Four teams. The team measured the value of broadcast coverage, media mentions, social media activity, draft projections, audience composition, and school selection on potential revenue and brand impact for NIL partners. Former Duke University forward Paolo Banchero generated nearly $625,000 in NIL value during the tournament. Armando Bacot Jr. ($558,827), Ochai Agbaji ($540,654), Paige Bueckers ($445,401), Aliyaj Boston ($425,005), Doug Edert ($306,746), Collin Gillespie ($285,313), Hailey Van Lith ($144,801), Haley Jones ($125,682) and Lauren Jensen ($40,469) rounded out the top 10 in top NIL value increases throughout March Madness.

Future of NIL

While the NIL landscape continues to evolve day-by-day, our team remains ahead of the curve and prepared to support talent and brands.

“We are all-in on NIL. The opportunity to work with talent, educate them and develop personal brands is something we take great pride in at Excel, and we look forward to helping the next generation of athletes take the next step in their careers.”

– Parker Cain, NIL Marketing Agent, Excel Sports Management

Read more about Excel’s involvement in the NIL space on ESPN.com: Perspectives from around college sports on NIL’s one-year anniversary

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