New Data Shows Swimming and Diving Takes 4th and 6th Spots in NIL Compensation

by Emma Edmund 10

March 29th, 2022 College, Industry, News

Women’s swimming and diving is tied with women’s volleyball as the fourth-largest sport for NIL deals in terms of compensation, according to new data from Opendorse.

Opendorse provided data for the NIL industry among college athletes, with data tracking through February 28, 2022. Men’s swimming and diving is the sixth-largest sport. The two sports have shot up the charts, ranking as No. 11 for women and No. 12 for men in late 2021.

While this number may seem high, there are some caveats. The Opendorse numbers only account for deals booked through the organization, so they may not be representative of the industry as a whole.

Second, the top three sports–football, women’s basketball, and men’s basketball–account for over 84% of total NIL compensation, a larger percentage of total compensation than earlier data from late 2021. Women’s swimming and diving, despite being the fourth-largest sport, only brings in 2.4% of total compensation. Men’s swimming and diving only brings in 1.8% of total compensation.

Top Sports for NIL Compensation

  1. Football: 50.6%
  2. Women’s basketball: 18.5%
  3. Men’s basketball: 15.0%

=4 Women’s swimming and diving: 2.4%

=4 Women’s volleyball: 2.4%

  1. Men’s swimming and diving: 1.8%
  2. Softball: 1.6%
  3. Baseball: 1.4%
  4. Men’s track and field: 1.0%
  5. Women’s track and field: 0.9%

The top conference for NIL compensation is the Big Ten, followed by the Big East, Big 12, ACC, PAC-12, and SEC. Athletes could complete a number of activities as part of their NIL deals, but by far posted content on various platforms, which accounted for almost 70% of NIL activities.

Posting content, however, only accounted for 33.9% of total compensation for NIL deals across all sports. Though “signing something” only accounted for 1.3% of total activities, it accounted for 18.3% of total compensation

NIL Activity (as listed by Opendorse) Percent of Total Activities Percent of Total Compensation
Posting content 69.1% 33.9%
Signing something 1.3% 18.3%
Licensing rights 1.1% 13.8%
Creating content 1.4% 11.4%
Appearing somewhere 0.8% 3.3%
Doing interviews 0.4% 1.8%
Providing Instruction 0.1% 0.4%
Selling products 0.3% 0.3%
Testing products 0.2% 0.2%
Chatting with someone 0.0% 0.1%
Other activities 25.3% 16.2%

Despite the wide variety of activities athletes can partake in, the average compensation of a Division I athlete since July 1, 2021, is just $561. The compensation drops off dramatically after Division I. Division II athletes made an average of $57, while Division III athletes made an average of just $35.

Men also received the majority of the compensation–they received over 70% of the Division I compensation, over 65% of the Division II compensation, and almost 70% of the Division III compensation – although Opendorse data shows that in swimming, women actually receive more deals for a higher value.

This range, however, is actually a decrease from earlier in 2021, when men in Division I, for example, made up almost 80% of the total compensation.

Opendorse did not provide specific numbers associated with the compensation. Publicly announced NIL agreements for swimmers included suit deals, which helps explain why swimming and diving ranks 4th and 6th in compensation, despite only ranking 10th (women) and 13th (men) in percentage of total NIL activities. Suit deals, for example, are often of higher value than just posting content on social media platforms.

Football ranks No. 1 among activity among NIL sports, though it also represents a larger percentage of total NIL compensation, reflecting a greater value among its activity, like swimming.

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1 year ago

I’m surprised Wrestling doesn’t appear, but then again what would they represent?

Go Dawgs
1 year ago

Why is there a pay gap between men’s and women’s swimming?

Reply to  Go Dawgs
1 year ago

Because the article is using data based on a very small sample size.

Steve Nolan
1 year ago

ideally those people still got google.

1 year ago

I would be curious to know if and what percentage of sponsors have decreased their sponsorships to athletic departments as a whole vs giving it directly to football/basketball players. And how much, potentially, it’s hurting other sports if departments are loosing out on that sponsorship funding. On Wednesday, NPRs podcast Consider This touched on this topic but didn’t mention swimming, they just focused on football/basketball. I would also be curious what could be done with title nine to make things more even between men and women. Although I don’t think that will happen.

Scotty P
1 year ago

I would have for sure thought Men’s Baseball would be higher than Men’s Swimming.

Reply to  Scotty P
1 year ago

“The Opendorse numbers only account for deals booked through the organization, so they may not be representative of the industry as a whole.”

This is only based off NILs run through the company that supplied the data for this article. It doesn’t show the full picture. I believe that gymnastics is the biggest NIL sport for females (Olivia Dunne and Suni Lee), and the sport is not even listed in the article. And the fact that the SEC is listed behind the Big East makes me think that Texas A&M football players did not book any of their NIL deals through this company.

Last edited 1 year ago by coach
Reply to  coach
1 year ago

This was what jumped out at me. If football makes up 50%, then one would think the biggest football conference wouldn’t be 6th on the list. Makes me think this data set might not be a great representation

1 year ago

Yet for some reason colleges are cutting their swim programs.

Reply to  Swimmah2345
1 year ago

They tend to cut their swim programs when the swimming pools they neglected for decades no longer function and they have to replace them. I’m surprised swimmers aren’t higher as there are around 10 swimming Olympians attending college this year and I would assume they all have 6 figure swim suit endorsements along with US Swimming stipends/endorsements.