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NIL 3.0: It's Everyone Else vs. LSU

How educational resources, personal branding, and the power of the LSU platform is translating to opportunities for student-athletes in the NIL space

by Harrison Valentine, Michael Bonnette
NIL 3.0: It's Everyone Else vs. LSU

When Angel Reese decided to turn pro, it wasn’t a local paper, a podcast, or even a social media post that broke the news. It was the cover of Vogue.

When Flau’jae Johnson needed a feature on her upcoming album, it wasn’t a local hip-hop artist or a rising star that took the mic. It was Lil Wayne.

When Jayden Daniels picked his new home, with hopes to become NFL ready and develop on the sport’s biggest stage, he won the Heisman.

When Olivia Dunne won a national championship with LSU Gymnastics, she celebrated with confetti, a parade, and a multimillion-dollar NIL partnership.

When student-athletes step on campus and wear those three letters, one thing becomes especially clear: it’s everyone else vs. LSU.


As July 1, 2021, approached, LSU Athletics had one goal – to ensure student-athletes would have the best resources and support surrounding name, image and likeness. Over the past three years, the NILSU department has made it a priority to provide educational opportunities to student-athletes to allow them to feel confident in the NIL landscape.

At LSU, NIL is more than student-athletes earning money, it’s about providing them with the resources that educate, inspire and put them in a position to build long standing business relationships.

“We are about teaching our student-athletes about their brand, business and preparing them for life after sports,” Taylor Jacobs, LSU’s Associate Athletic Director for NIL and Strategic Initiatives said. “We want our student-athletes to maximize their opportunities, but to also understand the value of their brand, seek ways to enhance it and ultimately, put themselves in a position to continue to benefit from it once they graduate from LSU.  

“Much like an LSU education, we are positioning our student-athletes to use the relationships they have built with businesses through NIL long after their playing days are over.”

LSU’s NIL education begins when student-athletes arrive on campus and continues throughout their college career. LSU’s unique “Build Your Board” event – an opportunity for student-athletes to engage with businesses in Baton Rouge and the region – has attracted over 300 businesses to campus in three years.

NILSU also hosts the “Sweats to Suit” event where student-athletes are educated on dressing like a professional and given insight on attire for every business occasion. As part of the event, student-athletes walk the runway outfitted in clothes as part of an NIL deal.  

Two years ago, NILSU hosted Meta on campus for a program with student-athletes geared toward building a brand and how to monetize their social media presence.

Other opportunities afforded to student-athletes through NILSU include “Content Days” where they are taught how to create content for their social media platforms; a financial literacy program through Tiger Life where they are taught business skills and learn the value of being financial responsible; and the NILSU app where student-athletes pitch NIL deals, receive offers from brands, access educational resources and track their earnings and taxes. 


The LSU Athletics platform has never been greater. The spotlight around our coaches, our student-athletes, and our institution, has never been brighter. 

Winning helps, too. With Football (2019), Men’s Outdoor Track & Field (2021), Women’s Basketball (2023), Baseball (2023) and Gymnastics (2024), the Tigers have captured five team national championships in half a decade, while also allowing student-athletes to be their authentic selves, show their personalities, grow their personal brands and capitalize on NIL opportunities.

LSU is where stars become icons. When you wear that purple and gold, the effects are felt immediately. Just ask Paul Skenes, who committed to the Powerhouse of College Baseball a coveted prospect and left a national champion and a No. 1 overall pick. Ask That Kid Jayden – a QB transfer with nothing guaranteed to him – who bet on himself, won the Heisman Trophy and was drafted No. 2 overall. Ask the “Bayou Barbie,” who entered an athlete and departed an international phenomenon.

It’s where Flau’jae – aka Big 4 – could pursue both of her passions as a hooper and a rapper. It’s where Livvy could win a national championship, rack up 13.3 million followers on social media, and secure multi-million dollar NIL earnings.

“I didn’t know what the platform of LSU could do,” said Daniels. “To actually experience the type of platform that LSU has, the pull around the world that they have, all eyes are on you. I didn’t understand it until I got here.”

LSU Brand in 2023 (Data via Sprinklr)

  • 8.4 million followers (up 23.4%)
  • 57K posts (up 30.2%)
  • 69.4 million owned engagements (up 299%)
  • 6.5 billion owned impressions (up 13%)
  • 1.24 billion owned reach (up 14.4%)
  • 1.2K engagements per post (up 206.7%)
  • 8.3 million mentions (up 38%)
  • 62.4 billion earned reach (up 80.4%)
  • 57.6 million earned engagements(up 321%)
  • 63% positive sentiment (up 8%)


LSU has always been at the forefront of creating exposure for its student-athletes, but NILSU has helped establish a powerful network of opportunities never seen before.  

In just three years, LSU student-athletes have been the subject of an Amazon documentary – set to be released in the fall – and have been featured in a national Powerade commercial. LSU student-athletes also benefit from jersey sales and group licensing.

A national fast food chain has also been a key contributor to NILSU, showcasing numerous LSU student-athletes on billboards, commercials and other promotional items from the chicken finger giant.

“These three years have been a whirlwind, but we are really just getting started,” Jacobs said. “The thing that makes me so proud to be associated with NILSU is how our student-athletes have taken this opportunity and used their financial gain and influence to give back in the community and do what they can to benefit others. It’s very gratifying.”