Photo via Sporting News
In the history of amateur sports, athletes have jumped at any chance of playing in their sport’s professional league because it was the only way to profit off of their talents. Athletes are now able to profit off of their name, image and likeness (NIL), making it a true decision for athletes whether they finish out their college careers or head to the pros as soon as possible. A great example of this is UNC’s Armando Bacot Jr., who came onto the scene during North Carolina’s run to the national championship in 2022. Bacot stated that he deferred the NBA draft to stay in school “in part for the money.”
In the months following the 2022 March Madness tournament, money started pouring in for Bacot. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Bacot stated that he made a $21,000 profit selling t-shirts capitalizing on his NIL, signed a five figure deal with Jimmy’s Famous Seafood, signed with a thoroughbred farm in Kentucky called Town and Country Farms, another deal with a technology consulting firm called CapTech and a card deal with Topps. Additionally, he does promotional work for Me Fine, a social-services charity, took a paid acting role on the Netflix show Outer Banks, has food and drink items in Chapel Hill named after him and has delivered over 100 videos through Cameo where he charges $95 per individual and $350 per business. Bacot told Sports Illustrated that between North Carolina’s run to the title game in March and his interview with them in June that he was offered an assortment of deals “pushing the six-figure market.” Needless to say, Bacot is having the time of his life being a college athlete for one of the most notable college basketball programs in the history of the sport, while earning a college degree and profiting from his talents.
Bacot is not only an inspirational story for other college athletes, but a signal for where the college athletics market is headed. Bacot, who likely would not have been a first round pick in this year’s NBA draft, decided to stay in college where he can profit off of his NIL, get another chance to win the national championship and complete his degree at a top university. The NIL market allows athletes flexibility in their decision-making, creating safety nets, allowing them to finish their degrees and make money all at once. Bacot stated in his interview, “staying in school was a no-brainer. I get a chance to get better, get my degree, be around all of my friends and then also make a lot of money.”
It is clear that Bacot made the right decision for him, but he is living proof that it may be the wiser choice for college athletes to remain in school, finish their degree, profit off of their NIL and grow their personal brand to the extent that they can. Not only is this new market good for individual athletes, but it will drive college athletics by keeping its best talent around longer, subsequently making for a more competitive landscape. This is not to say that all amateur athletes will chose college over the pros, but the NIL market will now keep a lot more talent in college sports. Bacot is the first of many to choose to stay in college over going pro, and his story will be one that many college athletes read about and take into consideration when they find themselves making the same decision. College athletes are in the Rod Tidwell mindset of, “Show me the money!”, and for many mid-late round prospects, more money might be in the college market.
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