Since the passage of legislation in 29 states last year that provides for student-athletes to receive payments for use of their name, image or likeness (NIL), there has been double digit increase in public support for the practice.
The poll asked: "Do you think student athletes should be allowed to profit from the use of their name, image, or likeness?"
When the Seton Hall Sports Poll asked this same question one year ago, 56 percent of the general population said that student-athletes should be allowed to profit from NIL use. Now, the number has risen to 68 percent. Those opposed a year ago stood at 25 percent; today, only 15 percent oppose it. In sum, last year Americans favored NIL payments for student-athletes by more than 2 to 1; this year, the margin is greater than 4 to 1.
The Seton Hall Sports Poll was conducted March 11-14 across the United States using a national representative sample weighted according to gender, age, ethnicity, education, income and geography based on U.S. Census Bureau figures. The Poll featured 1,528 adult respondents with a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percent.
Among sports fans, the support for NIL payments to student-athletes was even greater. In the course of that same year, sports fans supporting these payments grew from 64 to 75 percent, with just 15 percent opposed – a 5 to 1 margin. Among self-described "avid fans," it went from 74 percent to 80 percent, with 12 percent opposed – a greater than 6 to 1 margin.
Pay for Madness?
Asked if student athletes should be financially compensated for participating in March Madness in addition to a scholarship and cost of attendance stipend, 46 percent of the general population agreed with the proposition while 27 percent were opposed. Among sports fans, the yes vote carried by 55-30 percent, and among avid fans, by an even greater margin of 69-20 percent.
"The numbers indicate that those who are the consumers of this product, sports fans, believe it's time to share revenue with the student-athletes," said Professor Charles Grantham, Director of the Center for Sport Management within Seton Hall's Stillman School of Business, which sponsors the Poll. "March Madness is a multi-billion dollar business and almost everyone except the players is being paid well."
How Will You Watch the Madness?
Respondents were also asked how they will be watching the NCAA tournaments this month. The response saw 37 percent of sports fans and 38 percent of avid fans saying "TV only." Interestingly, 17 percent of sports fans and 31 percent of avid fans said they would be watching via a combination of TV and non-TV devices. Strictly non-TV (e.g. smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.) was selected as their viewing method by 7 percent of sports fans and 8 percent of avid fans.
Social Media Madness & Brackets
As for "second screen" viewing (when viewers are watching TV along with a secondary device), 38 percent of sports fans and 52 percent of avid fans said they will follow or engage with social media during the tournaments, while 45 percent and 34 percent respectively said they will not.
"Given the second-screen viewing habits of those watching the NCAA Tournaments, it would be smart for big brands to create ad campaigns which reach multiple screens," said Seton Hall Marketing Professor and Poll Methodologist Daniel Ladik. "Another benefit of second-screen viewing is smaller brands can still 'get in the game' with reduced ad budgets on social media platforms."
Twenty-six percent of sports fans and 48 percent of avid fans will be filling out brackets; 16 percent of sports fans and 33 percent of avid fans said they will place a wager on at least one tournament game.
Questions with charted breakdowns may be found in an online version of this release here.