There are few women in college sports more marketable right now than Shaylee Gonzales and Grace McCallum
Gonzales and McCallum, who’ve starred at BYU and Utah, respectively, are considered to be two of the most marketable women in the NCAA
Gonzales, the BYU women’s basketball star who is in the transfer portal, and McCallum, a current standout in gymnastics at the University of Utah, are considered two of the top 10 most marketable women in all of NCAA sports right now.
That’s at least according to Opendorse, a company that “provides ... industry-leading (name, image and likeness) solutions help athletes and their supporters understand, build, protect and monetize their brand value.”
NIL value — in other words marketability — as determined by Opendorse is based on athletes’ social media followers, fan engagement and the sport that they compete in.
Add it all up and Gonzales and McCallum both register in the top 10 nationally, coming in at No. 8 and No. 10, respectively.
Gonzales and McCallum are joined by a who’s who in the top 10, and all the athletes either play basketball or compete in gymnastics. There is:
- LSU gymnast Olivia Dunne.
- UConn basketball’s Paige Bueckers.
- Auburn gymnast — and Olympic gold medalist — Sunisa Lee.
- Louisville basketball’s Hailey Van Lith.
- Miami basketball’s Hanna Cavinder and Haley Cavinder.
- Oregon basketball’s Sedona Prince.
- Baylor basketball’s Jaden Owens.
The number of social media followers had by nearly every athlete in the top 10 is somewhat astounding.
Dunne, rated the most marketable woman in the NCAA, has 1.9 million followers on Instagram alone.
Combine the Cavinder twins’ two Instagram accounts and they boast 823,000 followers.
Gonzales and McCallum don’t occupy that spectrum exactly, with 84,100 and 245,000 Instagram followers, respectively, but the fact remains that they currently rate among the most marketable women in all of college sports.
NIL, and the opportunities provided, have brought challenges, though.
In an interview with the Deseret News in April, McCallum explained some of the difficulties she faced balancing sports, school and NIL opportunities, while being very aware of her privileged position.
“I try to stay very humble and grounded in who I am, but the opportunities are amazing and they have set me up for the future,” McCallum said.
“I put all of it in savings so I don’t have to worry about it and I don’t like talking about it a whole lot because I know there are athletes that don’t have the opportunities or get the same things as me, which I feel really bad about. I think everyone should get the same opportunities but I do get it.”
McCallum works with an agent and is selective in what brands or companies she represents. As she sees it, “I won’t work with a company I don’t truly connect with in some way. We work together to figure out what I want to represent, something I feel comfortable and confident representing.”
Behind the scenes, the demands of NIL are taxing, when combined with athletes’ other responsibilities.
“There is a lot more that goes that a lot of people don’t know about,” McCallum explained. “We are constantly calling and making sure we get things done, and it can be really stressful, making sure that you hit deadlines, on top of school, gym and traveling.
“It can be hard, but it is definitely worth it in the end.”