The job of Jasmine Jordan, like many others working in the broader sports industry, has changed dramatically — thanks to NIL.
In June 2021, the NCAA announced that an interim policy was adopted by all three divisions suspending name, image and likeness (NIL) rules, allowing college athletes to profit off of themselves. In the time since, top athletes across all sports have signed endorsement deals with leading footwear brands. Recently, these deals have extended to those playing at the high school level.
Jordan, who is the basketball field rep for women’s sport marketing at Jordan Brand, has admitted her day-to-day responsibilities have shifted with NIL, especially in terms of her time spent scouting players. It has also changed her view of what the brand’s women’s athlete roster could, and should, look like.
What’s more, NIL has allowed Jordan — the daughter of NBA icon Michael Jordan — to imagine how her famous father’s career would have changed if available to him during his college career at the University of North Carolina in the 1980s.
“Maybe that first Nike deal wouldn’t have been as low as it was,” Jasmine told FN with a laugh. “It would have changed the game. He would have potentially approached his contracts with Nike differently. Looking at his Funko Pop collectibles or the fact that people still wear his UNC jersey, to reap the benefits from it today, we’re talking making trillions at this point.”
Below, Jasmine offers a look into NIL — which has been dominating sports headlines for months — from an industry insider’s perspective.
Jordan Brand’s Approach to NIL
“We know the guys are going to get bags — everybody’s going to go after [high school stars] DJ Wagner and Bronny [James]. Our approach to NIL has been focused on women. Also, it’s full-fledged, long-term relationships for us. It’s not about collecting whatever check that you can because you did a quick post on Instagram. If we’re signing you, we’re signing you for your college years or resigning you from high school into college and a maybe pro. And when we do sign you, it’s because you want to be here, it’s because you understand it’s a two-way street. I want you to grind and work as hard as you possibly can knowing that we’re going to market you and do everything we can on our end. We don’t want you to lose sight of your motivation just because now you can make a check for doing what you do. We make sure the athletes understand that this is an exciting partnership and we want you here because your values align with us and we love your game, love who you are — but this is business, so you’ve got to come prepared to work hard knowing so much will come from this relationship.”
How NIL Could Impact Athletes Who Want to Complete Their Education
“The athlete has to want that for themselves, first and foremost. They have to want to finish [their education]. But we can partner with you no matter what you decide. If you want to go your full four years, incredible. If you decide to leave early, then you decide to leave early. The beauty of the deals is if you go pro, the deal can shift or you can start fresh depending on how a brand approaches it. NIL allows the athlete to consider who they are from a business standpoint, but it should never hinder their education.”
On Learning the NIL Landscape
“I’m still learning NIL every day. And what you read in the media is not truly what the deals look like. Communicating that to athletes has been the biggest thing. Some athletes see the dollars and are like, ‘Damn, this person is making x, y and z,’ and they’re expecting that as well. Once you start making this sort of income, you’ve got to pay taxes, you have to assess what your bottom line will actually look like because it can look great on paper but there are deductions and you might be like, ‘Wait, I’m actually not making that?’ It’s a learning curve, a learning process. The biggest thing has been making sure they are educated. And it’s really not about the dollars. It’s about partnership and being valued and appreciated. I’m constantly drilling that into young athletes because I never want an athlete to feel deceived. Also, NIL can really just be college. You don’t have to enter your pro years with a brand. That allows you to either focus solely on college or it allows for longevity entering the pro years.”
How She’d Like the Jordan Brand Women’s Athlete Roster to Look
“If done right, NIL can be beautiful. Starting with Kiki Rice and now Kiyomi [McMiller], I love what [the deals] can bring young high school athletes and beyond. My focus is [creating a roster with] a mixture of NIL plus the WNBA. The W right now is in such an exciting space, not only with the rookie classes that are coming but also this expansion conversation. What the W decides with potential expansion is going to be huge because that will allow more athletes to be seen, more markets to come into the conversation. And we show up consistently at WNBA All-Star Weekend, making sure our brand is synonymous with basketball across the board — and more specifically with our female consumers. That is huge.”