“Hopefully I can get paid for social media,” the North Dakota State rising senior wide receiver said.
Sproles hopes are being realized in the first days since the NCAA officially lifted the floodgates on amateurism, approving an interim name, image, and likeness policy this week. Athletes could start profiting on Thursday.
“People were bothered by how much I posted. Like Instagram stories, Instagram posts, Snapchats, how much I tweet,” Sproles said. “I had a purpose for it.”
Anticipating a day when players could seek compensation, Sproles started studying how to increase his visibility on social media platforms early on.
When the potential of a new rule started becoming more likely, he began to figure out how to pair his online success with business opportunities.
“The sooner I can learn how to finance money, how to make deals, business deals with people, that’s just going to prepare me for the next step of my career,” Sproles said.
Once the policies were officially set, he didn’t have to play from behind the chains.
“If you think about it, what company wouldn’t want to take advantage of a college athlete that has in total over 190,000 followers on all social media platforms,” he said.
So far, it’s paid off. Sproles has tweeted ads for Game Face Training, a Twin Cities based performance facility he’s worked with since he was 15 years old, and for PathWater. On Friday, he got another deal with Opinion Clothing Company.
Skeptics of the new policies raise concerns about how much of a distraction trying to profit would be for players, something Sproles is not as worried about.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have football. I wouldn’t have the followers that I do,” he said. “Getting paid and all is cool for social media, but my goal is to potentially play in the NFL.”
Before the rules became official, Sproles says NDSU coaches and compliance were in and are still in constant contact with athletes, helping them understand exactly what they can and can’t do with NIL opportunities.
Sproles didn’t play the spring season for NDSU, continuing to rehab a leg injury sustained in the Bison’s win over Central Arkansas in October. He says he’s feeling good heading into the fall season, ready to make impact again.
“It’s going to feel normal again,” Sproles said.
When he returns, Sproles will not only help lead the Bison back out on the field, but will also help usher in a new age of college athletics, something he’s already getting started on.
“As student athletes, we don’t a lot of time to have jobs and do other things that other kids may be able to do, so it helps us out,” Sproles said. “I’m just blessed to be in this position.”