Emma Silberman had the opportunity to speak with the University of Maryland Board of Trustees about a topic near and dear to her heart: the growth of NIL within Maryland athletics on October 12.
Each year, the Board of Trustees meets with the athletic administration to educate the Board about different issues facing student-athletes. Silberman, who is about to begin her fifth season with the Maryland gymnastics program, was offered the opportunity to speak on the six-person panel about how the NIL sphere impacts the life of a student-athlete.
“This was a really big opportunity for not only me, but just the gymnastics team in general, just getting our name out there and talking to people with such importance in the University of Maryland,” Silberman said.
In the panel alongside Barry P. Gossett Director of Athletics Damon Evans, Opendorse CEO Blake Lawrence, Big Ten Senior Vice President of Policy and Compliance Chad Hawley and Rob Sine, the CEO of Blueprint, which operates the One Maryland NIL Collective, Silberman had the opportunity to participate in a moderated discussion led by Brian Ullmann, the Vice President for Marketing and Communications at the University of Maryland.
The group had the opportunity to speak about the many pros and cons of the NIL world, but emphasized how Maryland has pushed for the positive aspects of NIL. Silberman had the chance to speak from the perspective of a student-athlete who has made the most of the NIL opportunities.
The introduction of NIL has positively impacted Silberman in many ways. With a variety of deals with different restaurants and mobile apps, she has been able to partner with several brands that make a difference in her daily life. She has learned how to market herself and grow professionally as a result of her many endorsement deals.
“On Opendorse, there's just small opportunities that are really helpful when trying to build your brand,” Silberman said. “It's not just about your life and the University of Maryland as an athlete, but it helps in building your brand with these companies, helps with your professional development and learning how to communicate professionally and how to get your name out there and represent brands that you want to represent.”
Additionally, with Silberman coming back for a fifth year of eligibility granted as a result of COVID-19, partnering with companies in NIL deals opened the door for her to complete her graduate degree in special education and grow as a community leader.
Silberman also acknowledges how much NIL has spurred the growth of women’s college gymnastics. Through the publicity and new household names around the country, Silberman has seen how the NCAA has invested in the sport since she arrived at Maryland in 2019.
“Before NIL, the NCAA Gymnastics Championships were on ESPN+, which is where you needed to have a subscription,” Silberman said. “And now two years later, with all the NIL increasing and the opportunities increasing, the NCAA Championships was on ABC. I think that just speaks for itself.”
After a 15-minute panel discussion, the floor was open to questions from the Board of Trustees, who asked questions about several topics related to NIL, asking questions about how NIL policy impacted all of Maryland’s sports. One member of the Board of Trustees asked Silberman if there was any financial literacy offered to student-athletes who entered NIL agreements. The New Hope, PA native spoke about how SECU’s partnership with Maryland athletics benefitted those making the foray into NIL.
“I think what's really unique about Maryland is that when the football field was renamed to SECU Stadium, they signed a deal that they would have to provide Maryland athletics and each athlete with a financial literacy session,” Silberman said. “I've gone to two sessions, and I've definitely learned a lot from them.”
Silberman’s main takeaway from the panel is that for her final year with Maryland gymnastics, she wants to make the most of the connections and opportunities she can gain through NIL. With the continuous growth of name, image and likeness deals across all of college sports, Silberman and the student-athletes after her have unique options to grow their brand and develop their professional acumen.
“I definitely learned a lot from this panel just from the people that were talking next to me,” Silberman said. “There was stuff that I had no idea about before this panel, and my main takeaway is take every opportunity you can because you never know what one opportunity will bring to you. Just through this panel, itt was cool to put a name to the face of a lot of different people that do so much for the University of Maryland.”