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August 29, 2021

Millionaires or Minimum Wage: Hear from Maurice Clarett and Other Athletes on NIL

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LRT Sports partnered with The Drake Group to host a panel with current and former athletes to discuss the new NIL bill. First and foremost, our panelists see NIL as an opportunity to connect with their communities in a new way.

Julie Sommer, Maurice Clarett, Brianna Ellis, and Julian Ross discuss tough topics related to NIL, including women’s equality in college athletics, jealousy between athletes, coach abuse of athletes, learning to handle your athletic career as a business, and treating athletes as a whole person, not just an athlete.

Julie Sommer, a former NCAA All-American swimmer and current attorney suggests that there are still gains to be made in gender equity in sports, but NIL brings us one step closer:

“This was good for women just like it was good for men. Similar to title IX, NIL rights are about justice and equity. And name, image, and likeness rights are great for female athletes in the same way they’re great for male athletes.”

Maurice Clarett, former NFL athlete and avid athlete-rights advocate talks on paying athletes not just in scholarships, but for the time and effort they put into the sport, just like any other job. He sees the NIL bill as a great opportunity for college athletes to experience what it’s like to start a small business, and use that experience to grow and become well-rounded individuals who have more to offer to the workforce and to future employers.

“Everybody has a platform… and if you can reach a specific audience… it’s a level playing field.”

Brianna Ellis talks about finding a balance between athletics and time for yourself and family. She touches on the mental wellness of athletes, and hopes to see reform in how athletes are viewed: they are whole individuals, not just an athlete.

“Our coach, one day she just said ‘No practice today, we’re just going to have a mental health day’ and… we went down to City Park and we had beignets and we had a moment to just relax and not be an athlete for a day.”

Julian Ross hopes to see reform in the shape of an athlete union that can come together to decide what’s best for athletes on an individual, university, and conference level. He states that NIL is all about finding your niche, and should not begin to fuel jealousy between athletes.

“Don’t count anybody else’s pocket… Having that niche, being able to promote yourself, either on social media or going out there and starting your own business… you have that same opportunity that anybody else does, and… you just have to be able to capitalize on [that].”