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Courtesy of student Joe Cronin
Courtesy of student Joe Cronin

IU Media School Students Learn The Importance of Athletic NIL Sponsorships

Since 2021, the IU Media School is educating students about NIL branding through media and word.

Cuban Center Virtual Reality Video Games
Alex Van Halen, left, Griffin Park and Devin Good work at the Mark Cuban Center for Sports Media and Technology at Assembly Hall on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. The students created sports virtual reality video games.

BLOOMINGTON, IN- In the last three weeks, you might have seen a familiar buzz in the air and for good reason.

Last month, students and professors at the Indiana University Media School across various media courses learned the art of how the NIL brand ruling in 2021 has shaped college athletics.

But one professor has taken the art of studying the fabric of NIL dealing to a whole other level.

Professor Steven Layton, former graphic editor for The Chicago Tribune and graduate of the University of Florida, has taken a new approach to help students create, and explore on their own, topics that affect student athletes in the new athletic world. 

Galen Clavio speaking in Professor Layton's classroom during a seminar about NIL and athletics on October 12, 2022
Courtesy of student Joe Cronin


Dr. Galen Clavio spoke in Professor Layton's course in October about the state of NIL and how athletics deals are changing through social media and journalism.

He brought in special guest speakers such as IU Sports Media Director, Dr. Galen Clavio, and former Tampa Bay Times journalist, Thomas French, who spoke on the topics of narrative journalism as it embodies itself to human emotions as it relates to sports.

French used human philosophy to embody storytelling. He shared stories about a tiger escaping from the zoo, a child getting a first kiss, and a crime scene that he experienced while writing for the Florida newspaper.

Then he brought it back to the topic at hand, such was the case with Clavio, and that brought some students back to one quality Layton would repeat over and over again. "To tell a story."

"I think it's important because I feel like a lot of people don't know a lot about NIL, but everybody knows college athletes." IU Freshman journalism major, Emily Mertz said. "I think it's interesting to get different perspectives so that people will be able to know that these players are able to create their own way in the world. They just get to know more things about people that they might not have known if it weren't for the media."

For her group's project, along with her group members Nathan Shawl and Aubrey Erdman, they shot a two minute news feature, discussing to people how sports, such as soccer or field hockey, are benefited less compared to athletes in high ranking sports such as basketball or football. 

This as many journalists are beginning to become more educated about athletic appearances for other college sports. 

Learning that fame can be quick for some athletes through NIL deals, Mertz group discovered the mainstream media does not give star power to smaller athletes. Ranging from quote to quote, they changed their project many times, hoping journalists could understand more about NIL for small sports compared to big ones.

When her group wrapped up the project, they discovered that people are not fully educated about NIL deals due to the mainstream media getting used to the NIL branding as much as The Media School is discovering.

"I think it's important for journalists to cover because it might not be something that journalists would like to really think of outside of it," Mertz said. "Maybe a lot of journalists also knew what it was and how it would affect people."

As widely discussed through marketing and messaging, NIL deals are here to stay. Bringing in a new form of power, media, and journalism to press this new form of marketing.

Athletes and journalists can now work to better understand the art of communications in this ever changing world. In Professor Layton's course, many students are beginning to develop what Layton says at the beginning of a new lab in his two hour course, "Try that and try that."

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