2022 was an insane year at the NIL Store powered by Campus Ink. We grew in unimaginable ways, signing more than 600 athletes and obtaining licenses at some of the most prestigious universities around the country.
The best part was we paved the way in the NIL space for new ideas, pushing the limits on what was previously thought possible.
Here’s a look at our favorite “things that had never been done” from the past year.
Opened the first-ever NIL pop-up store
Way back in March we launched the first-ever NIL pop-up store in downtown Chicago and sold exclusively NIL merchandise for the Illinois men’s basketball team in conjunction with its run in the NCAA Tournament.
National sports business journalist Darren Rovell of Action Sports Network even took note of the activation, confirming how unique it was.
The store was furnished with NIL merchandise, and included QR codes on the walls that went directly to players’ online locker rooms along with a ticker that tallied money made for athletes.
In total, the Illinois NIL Store made more than $100K for Illinois athletes during the 2021-22 season.
Rochard Becomes First NIL Officially Licensed Virginia Tech Athlete
As basketball season faded and we transitioned into the spring, we recognized the incredible opportunities that came about with spring sports – particularly as it related to NCAA softball!
We managed to sign a number of top softball athletes, including Keely Rochard (Virginia Tech), Ashley Prange and Bailey Dowling (Alabama) and Mack Leonard (Florida State).
Rochard’s “Keels Deals” merchandise caught fire and Hokie fans ate it up.
It was so successful, that Virginia Tech agreed to make Rochard the school’s first-ever officially licensed NIL athlete. This meant that Rochard could sell items with Virginia Tech branding on them.
Soon after, nearly the entire Virginia Tech softball starting lineup joined in on the party!
It was the first domino that led to opening the official Hokies NIL Store later in the year for all Virginia Tech athletes.
Skyy Clark Birthday Party
Over the summer we threw a birthday party for incoming five-star freshman Skyy Clark in Champaign, Ill., where we sold his merchandise and printed jerseys on the spot for fans.
Admittedly it wasn’t the first birthday party we’ve thrown. We checked that off the list the previous year when we hosted a birthday party for Andre Curbelo.
But it was the first time we hosted a party for a player who had yet to even play a Division I game.
The reception from Illinois fans was incredible! People from all over the state drove to Champaign to meet Skyy, get his autograph and sign his merch.
We even sang happy birthday to him and gave him a cake! (Don’t worry Coach Fletch, he passed on the cake.)
Indiana basketball players Made 15K on poster sales
One of the cooler activations was when we worked with Indiana athletics to fulfill their legendary floating head posters.
We sold the posters at a pricepoint that allowed both men’s and women’s basketball players the opportunity to make a sizable profit. We also made them available to corporations to place their logo on the posters.
We understood the posters were a great tradition at Indiana, but we were simply amazed by Indiana fans’ fervor for the posters.
They sold like crazy, allowing IU men’s and women’s basketball players to make $15 collectively.
Chase Brown’s NIL merch included in media push
Admittedly the writer of this blog is a little biased. He worked in a college athletics department for 10 years as a PR specialist and did countless end-of-year activations to help our athletes win awards.
Athletic departments will typically create fun and informational packages related to the athlete and send them to local and national media to garner attention.
Illinois did just that when it was pushing star running back Chase Brown for the Doak Walker Award (nation’s best running back).
The cool part was Illinois included Chase’s custom merch in each of its packages. It was a great example of an athletic department helping to build a player’s brand as it extended itself into the NIL pool.
Indiana head coach coach wears NIL merch on sidelines
In one of the greatest NIL moments of the year, Indiana women’s basketball coach made history when she wore Grace Berger’s NIL merch on the sidelines for a game.
The game happened to be a top-6 matchup on national television.
Coach Moren is believed to be the first collegiate coach in history to don a player’s NIL merch while coaching.
Andy Wittry of On3NIL wrote of the NIL impact of Coach Moren’s gesture.
The night of the event, the NIL Store team noticed Coach Moren wearing the merch. It just so happened that the merch was a limited drop and unavailable to purchase at that moment, but the NIL team recognized the moment and quickly made it available for sale again.
Grace’s sales skyrocketed as a result!
It was an amazing display of the limitlessness of NIL in the merchandising space.
Purdue includes NIL in “ELF” activation
Just a few short weeks later, Purdue pulled off an awesome NIL move, as well.
We blogged about it here, but Purdue ran an entire marketing campaign around the movie “Elf” in an effort to collect canned goods this holiday season.
The featured star was Purdue men’s basketball player Caleb Furst, who hilariously ran all over campus in the famous “Elf” costume.
The NIL Store partnered with Purdue to sell NIL merchandise for Furst, featuring the basketball star in his Elf outfit. To no surprise, Furst’s sales were sensational and the activation was a rousing success.
Campus Ink Partners with Meta to Activate Top Athletes
The NIL Store powered by Campus Ink partnered with Meta to activate 10 of its most influential athletes through shoppable instagram reels for limited merchandise drops.
Among the athletes included in the activation was LSU women’s basketball star Flau’jae Johnson, who is one of the most recognizable athletes in the country for on-court skills and off-court musical talent.
The partnership has helped show other collegiate athletes the value of going “the extra mile” with their merchandise pushes and how it can lead directly to greater sales.