Home / News / Caitlin Clark could usher in a new era of WNBA endorsements

Caitlin Clark could usher in a new era of WNBA endorsements

Caitlin Clark coming to town is an event. The crowds are sold outsneaking into the side doors of hotels and police escorts.

Clark and the Iowa women’s basketball team are at the box office. Every game is a home game, thanks to thousands of fans creating a sea of ​​black and yellow at Hawkeyes games across the country. when are they Appeared in Evanston “He looks like the Beatles,” one person said to me on January 31st.

“I play every game and they are all sold out. So this is not something you should ever take lightly. I think it’s crazy how much people shout my name. “It’s not something you really get used to,” Clark said after defeating Northwestern 110-74.

When Ohio State upset Iowa a few weeks ago, a record crowd of 18,660 was in attendance. With Clark in the building, Northwestern women’s basketball also broke the sellout record with an attendance record of 7,039. Before Clark and his assigned police escort took the field to warm up, young children lined the stands near the entryway where he was expected to emerge. Wearing Clark basketball jerseys and ankle-length shirts, they waited with bated breath as their smartphone cameras began recording to get a closer look at the star.

“WE LOVE YOU CAITLIN!” They screamed as they quickly walked towards the field, seemingly unbothered by the piercing squeaks.

Clark, who became the first player in NCAA Division I history with 3,000 career points and 1,000 career assists and is just eight points away from the NCAA women’s career scoring record, is expected to be the first pick in the 2024 WNBA draft. waive his final year of eligibility. Although that’s not something he can talk about right now.

“The WNBA can wait. “Right now I’m just focused on university,” he said.

But even if Clark won’t indulge his growing fan base with a glimpse of what he might think of his future, everyone is talking. While I find most of it interesting, one particular part of the discourse is the oft-repeated idea that she would take a “pay cut” to play in the WNBA.

This misconception likely stems from the fact that the new name, image and likeness agreements in college athletics are thought of as a salary that somehow disappears when a player leaves the school.

To understand better, I spoke to an expert.

Noah Henderson, professor of sports management at Loyola, is an NIL expert who advises companies, schools and collectives on best practices. He said it was common for women’s endorsement earnings to exceed their salaries in sports.

“When NIL is combined with salary in college, it tricks people into thinking that athletes who earn more in endorsement rights than on-field wages will take a pay cut. This is categorically false because in the pros you can have both,” Henderson said.

Iowa Hawkeyes fans with mob guard Caitlin Clark leave Welsh-Ryan Arena after Iowa defeated Northwestern 110-74 on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024, in Evanston. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

Henderson said this argument also misunderstands NIL valuation. When you look at sites that show a player’s value in millions, you can see that this is what the player does for sports.

“A player’s NIL is simply the amount of money they can accrue from promotional rights. While some players at the university receive a ‘per-play stipend’ through NIL Collectives, this is almost always reserved for the male athletes (football and men’s basketball) who earn income,” Henderson said. “So, all the money Clark makes is for on-court performance and not , in the form of bona fide endorsement deals using influencers.”

The WNBA rookie pay scale means Clark will move from a base salary of $0 to just over $76,000. While there is room to debate salaries in women’s sports, Clark’s future earnings as a WNBA star look promising.

Aliyah Boston was selected first overall by the Indiana Fever in last year’s WNBA Draft. she told Girls Talk TV’s Khristina Williams, “Because you’re going to the league, that doesn’t stop your NIL deals. You call this complete approval. … These brands still want to follow you. Your fan base doesn’t change.

Clark has already signed deals with a list of household brands including Gatorade, State Farm, Nike, Buick, Topps and H&R Block. They also have a philanthropic agreement with the Iowa community food pantry. If what we’re seeing now is a sign of things to come, his fan base will grow along with his profile, and Clark’s basketball career could be quite lucrative in terms of endorsement deals.

NIL deals have helped women’s college basketball players become household names, and bringing the brands together with the WNBA’s marquee players in ways it couldn’t achieve on its own should be a mutually beneficial thing.

With female sports fandom on the rise and fans’ demand for more of everything from team apparel to custom sneakers, players like Boston and Clark may be ushering in a new era and getting paid to do it.



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