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
Women’s basketball: 18.5%
Men’s basketball: 15.0%
=4 Women’s swimming and diving: 2.4%
=4 Women’s volleyball: 2.4%
Men’s swimming and diving: 1.8%
Men’s track and field: 1.0%
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
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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.