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No, NIL isn't cannibalizing school's donor pools. Here's proof:

Administrators were terrified that donors would give to collectives instead of the school. But that's not happening. Here's why:

Good morning, and thanks for your continued support of Extra Points.

This isn’t exactly breaking news, but the cost to run a D-I athletic department have been rising substantially over the last few years, and with some form of direct revenue sharing and/or employment on the horizon for many programs, that trend isn’t slowing down any time soon.

Not everybody has climbed out of COVID-related budget holes. Inflation has increased the price of fuel, construction projects and hotels. Many schools have struggled with labor shortages with trainers, gameday operators, officials, and other key personnel. The list goes on.

That’s a big reason why many schools were deeply concerned that the rise of NIL collectives represented a significant financial threat to their departments. After all, administrators reasoned, there are only so many potential athletic donors out there, and if somebody is giving ten grand to pay for recruits, well, they’re probably not going to give ten grand to fund scholarships or facilities.

Steve Hank, the executive vice president of collegiate athletics at Affinaquest, said this to On3 back in April, crystallizing a sentiment I heard and read from ADs all over the country:

A narrative has formed during this nascent NIL era depicting universities as increasingly concerned about large sums of donor dollars going to collectives rather than to athletic departments as traditional contributions. 

From Hank’s perspective, “their concerns are well-founded,” he said. “The next 12 to 15 months in the major gift arena are going to really highlight the impact, and there will be hard numbers to back it up. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that both of those groups are drawing from the same donor pool, and those donors only have so much money to contribute into different areas … It is a concern for all the schools in Division I.”

It’s a completely reasonable assumption! This sentiment was pretty common!

But there’s just one problem. The data says it isn’t true.

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