Friar’s Take on NIL

NIL (name, image, and likeness) deals became legalized in December 2022 in Pennsylvania for high school student-athletes. Due to strong athletic programs and a highly competitive culture, many Malvern alumni and even some current Malvern athletes have had the opportunity to be involved with this new perk of athletics and personal branding.
Friar’s Take on NIL

Up until a year ago, Malvern athletes, like all high school athletes around the country, were not able to access NIL opportunities until entering college. NIL deals offer a whole new world of opportunities to receive direct payments, and merchandise as well. Being a top-ranked athletic high school, Malvern gives its athletes a platform to compete hard, and potentially gain notoriety within social media, two crucial aspects in obtaining an NIL deal. 


One of Malvern’s most prominent athletic programs, wrestling, has produced many state champions and was even named National Champions in 2021. One former Malvern wrestler, Nick Feldman ‘22, was a huge part of the program’s success. Malvern wrestlers like Nick have proved themselves through hard work and determination, the notoriety they gain can make them a valuable asset to companies. A competitor like Feldman had huge success on the wrestling mat, but also had thousands of Instagram followers, while still in high school. A video of him at a wrestling practice (snapping a broken finger back into place and smiling at the camera) that ESPN posted in September of 2021 garnered over 3.7 million views.  


Upon entering college at Ohio State University, Feldman quickly signed an NIL deal with Rudis, a wrestling merchandise brand that was started by former Ohio State wrestlers.


“My NIL deal is with Rudis, a wrestling clothing brand. I get clothes from [them], as well as a monthly payment. I kind of promote their brand throughout [my] wrestling,” Feldman said.


Feldman compares NIL deals to a double-edged sword because he thinks there are positive and negative outcomes involved with NIL deals.


“I think it provides a lot more opportunities to certain people, not only a way for them to get to college, but I think it can be kind of negative because it’ll cause people to leave college when they get offered a lot of money. So it kind of is a double-edged sword,” Feldman said.


Having an NIL has done many things for Feldman, but he does not let it change the way he wrestles. 


When asked if having an NIL adds pressure, Feldman replied,


“Not too much pressure. The only pressure and pressure you put yourself, so it’s like nothing really changed for me. Just the same person, same wrestling.” 


The vast majority of Malvern athletes are minors and are obviously still high schoolers, and with all branding contracts, there are state rules and regulations that must be followed. Malvern’s Associate Athletic Director, and Head Lacrosse coach, Matt Mackrides had been put in charge of dealing with all NIL deals and rules. 


Mackrides speaks on the significance of signing a NIL deal as a high school athlete and the expectations that our involved 


“I think when you have a unicorn athlete, meaning somebody that is extremely advanced in their sport and has a lot of notoriety, they might have the opportunity to sign a deal. That is few and far between. Yeah, we’ve had some here at Malvern because we are a prominent athletic school but these opportunities, you know, they’re hard to come by,” Mackrides said.


Although high school athletes are not viewed by the same audience as the top college athletes, many companies want to promote their brand through high school athletics. 


However, Malvern is not linked to any of these deals. It is not legal for a company to promote their brand through Malvern, because there is no partnership between Malvern and that brand. 


Mackrides explains how Malvern fully supports their athletes to accept NIL deals on their own, without Malvern affiliation, to make sure all athletes and Malvern stay within the boundaries of the law.


“We [Malvern] can’t be, we cannot be a part of it. We still have our athletes who go out there and seek opportunities for sure. It would behoove us not to support that. One of the rules that’s really important is if you are promoting something, let’s say an athlete of ours, signs with some sort of brand, a T-Shirt Company, right? And they want to take pictures of that athlete. Our guys can not wear anything now we’re affiliated, so they can’t have a picture of let’s say a football player out on our turf, throwing a football. It can’t be. I’d say it’s a bracelet that the quarterback can’t be throwing the football with a picture of the bracelet with a Malvern across his chest, or on his helmet. It’s just that’s illegal because you’re promoting it within the school and that’s a state law,” Mackrides said.

One former Malvern athlete who has certainly taken advantage of NIL deals, seven to be exact, is current Fordham Rams’ defensive back, Jayln Evans ‘22. 


“The team manager set us up with this organization called “Postgame,” they’re a third party. Basically, they have an app where you can apply to any NILs that companies are working through. Most recently, I did one with CVS” Evans said.


Evans was fortunate enough to have a large following on social media, which is a key part of working with many brands. Some companies are able to reach out to him before he shows interest because of this.


“Fortunately I already have a platform, I have about 4000 followers on Instagram and even a following on TikTok, I’m blessed for that. When people see the platform now, [they] reach out to me,” Evans said.


Evans advises all athletes to make sure their social media accounts are organized, as it is one of the most important parts of getting NIL interest.


“For your Instagram accounts, make sure it’s organized, make everything look nice, don’t have anything crazy, even your resume, make sure it’s organized, make sure it looks good,” Evans said. 


Evans has done seven NIL deals in total, with his favorite being IHerb.


“My NIL Deals were IHerb, CVS, Reebok, Clark’s, Hey Dudes, Bio Steel,” Evans said.


“My favorite one I’d say is IHerb, IHerb is basically like an Amazon that just specializes in healthy stuff. They gave me a gift card and then paid me for it [a video promotion]. I was able to get protein and creatine and all that good stuff…It was my favorite because it definitely helped me in the offseason when I was training, it helped me make sure my body was right,” Evans said. 


Some of Malvern’s current athletes have been able to partake in NIL deals. 


Current senior, Tague Davis ’24, a Louisville baseball commit and top-ranked first baseman in the country, per Prep Baseball Report, has a NIL deal with Prowler Bat Company.


Davis is able to receive free bats in return for promoting Prowler Bat Company, a local business in West Chester owned by Steven McCardell. 


“It was probably about last year. I was 17 years old when I did a deal with Prowler, where I checked out Mr. McCardell’s bats. He sees what products I like and from there he uses my feedback to further sell his bats. The deal is great because I get free bats,” Davis said.


The world of Name, Image, and Likeness deals is still unprecedented. NIL deals have not only benefited Malvern athletes and alumni, but high school and college athletes around the country. As the competitive culture within Malvern athletics continues to grow, it is certain NIL deals will simultaneously expand and make the world of high school and college athletics more lucrative and more complex for everyone.


Photo Courtesy of Nick Feldman’21.

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