First Advisor

George Watson

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Business Administration: Marketing and University Honors


Business Administration




amateur athletes, personal branding, monetizing attention, social media, sports marketing, branding




What role does branding play in the compensation issues faced by amateur athletes? How has the rise of influential online social personas legally impacted their case? This thesis explores the long-standing compensation issues that many amateur athletes have faced while under the control of the NCAA. It connects the social impact of online personal branding to some of the legal victories won by student athletes as they gain more freedom over their NIL (name, image, likeness) by detailing the importance of branding and its evolution into personal branding in a 21st century economy. Many of the rules and regulations of the NCAA restrict athletes from earning compensation from outside organizations through endorsements, sponsorships, "brand deals" etc. However, new legislation passed over 2021 and 2022 have resulted in more opportunities for amateur athletes to explore the benefits of online social influence. In what ways are student athletes taking advantage of increase agency and what resources are available to assist them? Also investigated is the relationship between professional and amateur athletics: social media is constantly blurring the lines of fame and creating easier ways to capture audiences. What does that mean for athletes entering college or a draft? Will online fame aid in altering the perceptions of amateurism and impact the level of talent seen at collegiate and professional levels? As these situations continue to unfold, the everchanging landscape will reveal the repercussions of increased NIL freedom and the future of amateur athletics.


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An undergraduate honors thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science in University Honors and Marketing & Advertising.

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