Since Name, Image, and Likeness legislation was first passed a few years ago, the headlines surrounding it have been dominated by men's sports, specifically football and men's basketball. At Maryland, however, female athletes aren't just participating in NIL; they're thriving and succeeding in this new era of college sports.
In terms of the number of NIL deals, women lead the way in College Park with the most deals being female student-athletes including the top three overall.. Over the past school year, female student-athletes have disclosed 327 deals.
"I think a lot of times brands hear 'NIL' and immediately their thought process goes to football and basketball when in reality there are so many opportunities to work with all student-athletes, especially from our female programs," said Grayson Wagner, Maryland's Director of NIL Services. "The more we can hammer home that reality and provide examples of the successful partnerships that have occurred in the space, the better."
According to several Terp women at the top of the NIL game, their success began this year thanks mainly to Maryland's education on the subject and the university's partnership with Opendorse, the leading NIL marketplace and technology company, via Maryland’s MOMENTUM Program.
"Maryland did a great job setting up a meeting early when they introduced the (Opendorse) app," said softball catcher Kiley Goff. "Opendorse just sat us down and was like, 'You can do it or you can not do it, but if you do it's going to benefit you a lot.' And so I just dove right into it from there."
Maryland's partnership with Opendorse has allowed its student-athletes, such as Goff, who has the most NIL deals of any Terp, to build their personal brands by publishing social media content from partners.
"Opendorse has been super helpful in terms of getting us in contact with the right people," said women's basketball guard Faith Masonius. "Whether it's companies, organizations or fans, Opendorse lets you connect to them all."
"Opendorse makes it really easy," added Emma Silberman from Maryland's gymnastics team. "I can just scroll through the app when I'm not busy and look at different deals and see if they match with what I want my brand to represent."
Silberman also points to the added benefit of Maryland's location. So close to Washington DC, Baltimore, and Annapolis, Terrapin student-athletes have a unique advantage they have maximized through NIL.
"You definitely don't get that everywhere," Silberman said.
At Maryland, female student-athletes have seamlessly adjusted to the new era of NIL and used it to their advantage.
"The opportunity to promote brands and items they are passionate about is the biggest thing," Wagner said. "A lot of female student-athletes were already doing this without being compensated before NIL with things like fashion, cosmetics, dining, fitness, etc. because so many are well-versed on social media and creating content."
"The opportunity for female student-athletes to connect with a young generation of fans has been great to see as well, with many of the fan deals that have been received on Opendorse including some type of video or shoutout for young athletes that look up to these student-athletes," he added.
Kayla Woods, a track & field athlete with numerous NIL deals, agrees with that sentiment.
“NIL has changed the game for me and my teammates,” she said. “It’s a great experience to enjoy our sport and the things we use on a day-to-day basis in a new way by benefiting financially through these NIL opportunities. It gives female athletes, like myself, an incredible opportunity to build platforms and share experiences with one another, using social media in a positive way. It’s also been a great experience to think about building a personal brand and how we want to represent ourselves through these different deals.”
For Masonius, who has had several different NIL deals either promoting brands on social media or giving fans a shoutout on various platforms, her previous social media experiences gave her a firm starting block in navigating NIL.
"In some ways, a lot of women had some kind of head start with all the NIL stuff," she said. "I know me and a lot of my friends and teammates were active on social media beforehand, so now doing it for NIL opportunities isn't really a new thing. We had these platforms already, and NIL is just making them even bigger."
And now, as female athletes at Maryland and across the country have increased their brands exponentially thanks to NIL, it brings Masonius a great sense of pride.
"It's awesome to see so many female athletes doing so well with NIL and really using it to the best of their ability to not only create their own brand, but also to represent other bands that reach out to them. It's definitely a great thing for women's sports and I think it ultimately brings a bigger viewership."
Of course, the most significant result of NIL is putting well-deserved money into student-athletes pockets. However, the benefits are much more far-reaching than they appear.
"In a way, NIL has allowed us to start working professionally," Masonius said. "NIL is a bit like having a second job. You have to make time for it outside of school, practice and social life. It gives us a little bit of having a real job and dealing with more real-word stuff. It does more than just help money-wise."
"It's a huge opportunity for all of us to prepare for life after sports," Silberman added. "It's really great in terms of building your brand because you take deals that represent who you are and who you want to be associated with."
The various women at Maryland have got to push themselves to do more and to connect with brands they feel represent them.
Tennis' Kallista Liu has an NIL agreement with Under Armour, being able to promote both tennis wear and represent female athletes.
"My NIL deal with Under Armour allowed me to have the experience of a lifetime and venture into an industry I had never considered before," she said. "I got to connect with so many amazing people, and it opened up so many new opportunities for me. It was great to be able to represent female college tennis players through such a well-known brand."
Silberman has helped promote a student connection app. She also partnered with the Duke's Mayo Bowl to promote the football team's appearance in it, embracing the opportunity to represent women in sports and Title IX.
Goff has worked closely with Hally Hair. She also takes a lot of pride in her work with skin care products, something that's significant to her as a catcher who has to deal with her catching mask disrupting her skin.
As Goff reflects back on her NIL experiences, she has zero regrets. And she has a parting message to the next generation of Maryland female athletes.
"I would say go for it," she said. "Once college is over, NIL doesn't leave. You still have the contacts, that information and those experiences that you can use. It's super beneficial, and then of course it's a good way to make money."