Former University of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa’s social media presence could have earned him in excess of $400,000 in 2019 had new Name, Image and Likeness rules been in effect in 2019, according to a report published in The Athletic on Thursday.

The report, written by The Athletic’s Stewart Mandel and Nicole Auerbach, used an estimate by Navigate, a social marketing platform for athletes, who gave an approximate figure of $444,000 for Tagovailoa. The full story in The Athletic also listed estimates for many other college athletes, both male and female, in a wide range of sports.

Tagovailoa immediately signed a number of lucrative endorsement deals after renouncing his collegiate eligibility last January.

Via his Twitter account, Mandel said that Zion Williamson, who finished his basketball career at Duke in early 2019 after one season, could have earned nearly $4 million dollars as part of a Name, Image and Licensing package.

Social media would be one of several avenues through which athletes could be compensated through their Name, Image and Likeness rights when the NCAA implemented the legislation. A target date for implementation is currently 2021 although a multitude of complex issues remain to be resolved, ranging from apparel endorsements, video game rights and the more traditional “car dealership” endorsements, all of which could further enhance the value of top athletes.

Whether an athlete could go onto social media and endorse shoes or apparel different from his or her school’s partner in that area (or, for that matter, a bottled water that was not the official bottled water of the NCAA, remains subject to interpretation.

Social media would likely be most lucrative for the most prominent men’s football and basketball players but also would represent a potential high-value option for high-profile elite athletes in other sports, especially those with a young built-in target audience such as gymnastics, softball, swimming and golf.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or via Twitter @cecilhurt

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