Jack Betts ’24E — an English major and football player newly dubbed “the King of Division III NIL”— arrived promptly at Frost Café from his “Personal Religion” class, wearing white Allbirds sneakers on his feet, a Lifestyle Bands bracelet and WHOOP 4.0 fitness tracker on his wrist, plus a necklace that belonged to his late grandmother.

It was her JV basketball pendant, from her Louisiana high school back in 1953. Wearing it is “a means to always keep her close to me,” he said, and of all he had on that day, the necklace meant the greatest deal.

But the other items represent other deals—some of the nearly 40 NIL agreements he’s made this year.

NIL is short for “name, image and likeness.” On July 1, 2021, the NCAA officially allowed players to reap income from sharing their NIL. “This could be a great opportunity!” Betts, who grew up in Dallas, recalls thinking that day. “I could get deals with Insomnia Cookies, or other places in Amherst or Dallas.” He texted his teammates. “But their overwhelming response was, ‘Dude, we’re Division III athletes in Western Massachusetts.’ So I sidelined the idea.”

But in January 2022, Lifestyle Bands approached him, out of the blue, to see if he’d like to join their roster of NIL athletes. Soon this wide receiver went wide, cranking out dozens of emails a day to various companies. It paid off. A short list of his other NIL brands: Omaha Steaks, Positivity Alkaline Water, Vintage Brand and Ekster. It surely helped him that football is the NCAA’s most popular sport.  And no other Division III player has landed remotely as many deals as he has.

So what motivated Betts? Not so much the money: he’s earned around $9,500, he says, mostly by sharing social media posts and videos of himself wearing or using the products. The pay is welcome, but, compared to Division I, it’s peanuts: top earner Bryce Young, University of Alabama quarterback, has pulled in $3.3 million in NIL deals.

For Betts, it’s less the cash than the connections: “Because you never know, down the line, whether I do become an entrepreneur and I need some investors, I’ve got a heck of a network to tap.” Betts gives much credit to his parents, two corporate lawyers who specialize in mergers and acquisitions. His childhood was full of overhearing them do deals on the phone and observing their work ethic. As he puts it: “The best parts of my parents’ job kind of rubbed off on me.”

He has now represented Amherst at the first NIL Summit conference, and he’s given advice to other NESCAC players seeking their own deals, including his teammate Jovee Celestin, who has partnered with DoorDash. He’s also launched the Make Your Own Legacy Academy, in which he offers complimentary NIL help sessions to other players, with a special focus on outreach to Indigenous student-athletes. Betts’ own heritage is Cherokee and Hispanic. He was drawn to Amherst, in part, because of its Native American class offerings, and he is working toward a certificate from the Five College Native American and Indigenous Program.

What’s next for Betts? After graduation, likely business school. First, though, he’s fielding interest from the media, including The Orlando Sentinel, which was the first to call him “the King of Division III NIL,” and his hometown paper, The Dallas Morning News, which followed suit. Betts is also thinking about writing and selling his own NIL playbook, and he’s already getting speaking gigs. In December, back home in Texas, he’ll speak at the Frisco Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

“I’ll tell them about my story,” he says, of how he tapped the NIL potential in the NCAA’s least gloried division. “And how I capitalized on a market that had zero history of finding success.”