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Hidden Gems: Meet Michelle Meyer of NIL Network

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle Meyer.

Hi Michelle, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Hi there! Thanks for having me. My name is Michelle Meyer and my entire career has revolved around sports. I founded NIL Network in December of 2020 in advance of the massive NCAA reform that now permits collegiate athlete to monetize their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL). Collegiate athletes now have the rights to make money off their personal brand through sponsorships, endorsements, autograph signings, coaching, offering services, amongst other things.

As a former NCAA D1 athlete, coach, and program administrator in the college space over the past 15 years, I was incredibly excited yet speculative when California passed SB206 in the fall of 2019. I knew that NIL would come to the forefront eventually in collegiate athletics, but I never imagined it coming from a state passing their own NIL bill, essentially standing up to the NCAA and saying that enough is enough. I spent a lot of time in late 2019 reading as much as I could and researching the history of the NCAA to understand the complexities of the NIL issue and hypothesize about ways it may change college sports. And then, 2020 happened.

What was then my favorite topic to ruminate over got buried by COVID, civil unrest, and the election. However, around November, I started to see NIL news again. The NCAA was finally voting on NIL reform in January! This was coming soon and somehow, me, the person who was so awestruck with this change only a year before, completely missed it. That’s when I thought, who else has been distracted? 2020 was a tough, crazy year, but time still moves forward… And deadlines get closer.

That’s when I decided to create NIL Network as a hub of all information NIL. I wanted to share as much information as I could find about NIL as they developed. I wanted to share the good, the bad, the opinions, the research… Anything that could bring to life the monumental shift that’s going to happen over the next few years. Anything that could bring more awareness to the vulnerable collegiate athletes, their coaches, and their staff. And I was captivated by NIL once again. I couldn’t believe how much was out there and how little everyone seemed to know about it. Dozens of people started reaching out to me. We’d have exciting conversations and projections for what the future may hold. I started thinking: I have a real opportunity to contribute positively to this space. There is so much going on and a definite need for information, education, and advice on navigating this new era of collegiate sports. Furthermore, my experiences working in and around the college space for my entire career give me a unique and relatable perspective.

Since I realized this, I’ve felt a sense of responsibility, and I’ve been all in. And I’ve been BUSY: I’ve read every article on NIL since January 1. I’ve spoken to over 60 NIL company founders (Still working to connect with the other 100+ on my list!). I’ve researched all the University and NIL partnerships (Over 80% of the Power 5 have already partnered!). I’ve listened to every podcast I could find on NIL and I’ve attended every available NIL webinar.

On July 1, the floodgates opened and collegiate athletes now have control over their NIL. Over the past month, it has been the “wild west”. Thousands and thousands of athletes have partnered with brands and agencies. Some deals have been super positive while other demonstrate the need for education. It’s been a fun yet wild ride and I’m here to continue helping as many athletes, coaches, and admins navigate this new era as possible!

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
My top struggle, as is for most startups, is access to resources, having to learn everything as I go, and not having enough hours in the day. Especially in this new and rapidly developing space, staying on top of the trends is a full-time job in itself! I’ve learned to be very intentional with my time.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about NIL Network?
NIL Network was founded at the end of 2020 to help collegiate athletes, coaches, and administrators navigate the new era of college sports where athletes can monetize their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL). NIL Network provides timely and relevant content, insights from thought leaders, and conducts research. This information is delivered through the website, social media, the podcast, and on a more individualized level through small group workshops and consulting.

What makes NIL Network unique is my direct experience at all levels of college sports and that I don’t specialize in one sector of NIL (ex marketing, compliance, legal, branding, accounting). My expertise is ON this new industry and the businesses within it. I’ve formed relationships with the founders of over 60 NIL companies and understand their business, mission, and what sets them apart, allowing me to make good recommendations for my clients to fit their specific needs and budget.

For the readers: Your business can now work with college athletes as ambassadors for your company! There are many services out there to streamline the process and find a great fit to maximize your ROI. Here’s a link to 14 of them: https://www.nilnetwork.com/2021/06/nil-digital-marketplaces/. Let’s support our San Diego collegiate athletes! 🙂

We’d be interested to hear your thoughts on luck and what role, if any, you feel it’s played for you?
I got my start in college coaching by luck, timing, and a leap of faith. When I returned from playing volleyball professionally in Denmark in 2012, beach volleyball had just been added as a collegiate sport, and there were about ten universities that offered it. I emailed the coaches at all ten with my background and hoping to get my foot in the door – even if for just a volunteer position. The Hawaii coach at the time, Scott Wong, called me almost immediately, said he was just thinking that day that he needed to hire an assistant, and offered me the position. I still, to this day, cannot thank him enough for the opportunity to not only coach at the D1 level but also to live in Hawaii! 🙂

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