Former Gonzaga standouts aiming to help current student athletes turn a profit

Photo by Jack Dempsey/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

SPOKANE, Wash. — Just a few years ago the idea of college students athletes making money was against the rules, and in many times looked down upon.  However the name, image, and likeness rules have become a major factor during this college season changing the way we view collegiate sports forever.

“Honestly I think it would have been huge…I had a child my freshman year. If this was around when I was still at gonzaga I would have made a killing off of pampers and baby gap,” said Shaniqua Nilles a former Gonzaga Women’s Basketball player.

Nilles understands just what it’s like to be a student athlete at a D1 university, having to balance basketball, the classroom, and on top of all that, raising a child, but six years ago when she was last playing on campus, she had no ability to profit off of her skills as a basketball player.  Even for scholarship athletes, the budget can get a little tight…

“But they still struggle to buy groceries, they still struggle to just these everyday needs that I think that if you haven’t gone through it you don’t even think it would be a problem,” added Nilles

However less than a year ago the NCAA loosened up on their name image and likeness rules, now allowing student athletes to make money while on campus…But NIL can still be a bit of the wild wild west and that’s where Nilles and former Gonzaga men’s player Matt Santangelo come in, creating the 3rd party company ‘Friends of Spike.’

“We kind of are for lack of a better term the middle men for that, kind of protect the athletes from these businesses and corporations. We do all the heavy lifting for them. Nobody knows what this space looks like, it’s uncharted territory for us all,”

So while you’ve seen Drew Timme in commercials this season, friends of spike is not affiliated with the university, but would still aim to set up the players and businesses with opportunities that make sense for both sides.

“If somebody comes to us and says we want to book this athlete for an appearance for $10 we can, were not even going to waste time with that, that athlete is worth any athlete is worth way more than that,” said Nilles

And those in and around the university have seen the the worth in fighting for NIL changes, as it has become a tool to stay competitive in the ever changing college sports landscape where the money has never been greater.

“All athletes deserve to use their own name image and likeness in commercial endorsements and on social media and I am very much in favor profiting as much as they possibly can,” said Mark Few during a hearing on Capitol Hill last June.

“In order to compete with transfer portals and the recruiting process that this is the next step because it could potentially keep athletes here for another year versus going over to play in Europe or g-league,” said Nilles