Pay to Play Marketing was founded by Nick Stover, a former college athlete who went on to become a coach, published researcher, an Instructor of College Undergraduate and Graduate classes, a Director of Social Media and Engagement, a Chief Marketing Officer, a Chief Operating Officer, and a Marketing Agency Owner. However, his most important role is currently as a father. This experience led Nick to become extremely passionate about helping families and young student-athletes utilize his personal and professional research on the most important steps needed to benefit from the new Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rules in the United States.

History and Difficult Decisions

When Nick was offered a college scholarship to play soccer it was a dream come true for him. Unfortunately, after completing his Freshman year with a 3.8 GPA and accolades from his coach, the scholarship was still not enough financial support for him to continue at the program. This was despite the fact that Nick worked 5 jobs during the summer and 2-4 during the school year. At that time, social media was nearly unheard of and NIL opportunities were not yet available. 

Nick vowed that his children would not be forced to make the same difficult decision that was forced upon him. The next 2 decades of his career were spent searching for other methods to help young athletes overcome challenges like he faced. 

He would go on to earn a B.S. in Health and Sports Studies from Miami University (OH), a M.S. in Sports Management from the University of Tennessee, and an MBA from the University of Louisville. He earned many professional and academic awards and assistantships along the way in order to help pay for school. During this time he also taught communications and sports management courses while conducting, publishing, and presenting advanced research on the growing importance of social media and digital marketing in the sports industry.

This research and Nick’s experience working with over 100 organizations by the age of 25 helped his early career flourish. After building the website and starting the internship program for a local professional indoor soccer team, he earned progressive leadership roles while selling 6-figures in sponsorship and tickets as the program’s General Manager. Social media became a critical form of communication for the niche organization and Nick helped grow it’s Facebook account to become the most followed professional indoor soccer team in the world. This caught the attention of the local university and he was hired as the first Director of Social Media for an NCAA Division 1 Athletic Department. In this role, Nick earned local and national media coverage for exponentially expanding the University of Louisville’s social presence through innovative partnerships and use of technology including Google, Pitch, Tagboard, Google Glass, and drones. 

Another decade of consulting roles and advanced leadership positions in several of the largest and fastest growing organizations in the world followed. Nick worked with hundreds of organizations and continued to present at local and national conferences. He started his agency in 2016, called Shark Jockey. It specializes in guiding entrepreneurs, influencers, and businesses through oceans of marketing and branding questions. 

The Birth of Pay To Play Marketing

In 2021, the pieces to open up NIL opportunities for athletes in the United States finally came together. Thanks to these recent changes in the sports landscape, Nick saw an enormous opportunity to apply the same tools, techniques, and insights that businesses pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for to young athletes. He began by building a plan that could be utilized by his children in the future if they also wanted to pursue a career in sports one day. 

During a long road trip on New Year’s Day 2022, Nick spent hours contemplating how his insight spanning across 3 decades in the sports industry and hundreds of businesses could help thousands of families facing challenges just like his. A renewed dedication to and passion for educating others was born. Nick formed to help athletes, their families, and businesses who might not be in a position to commit to the support that large agencies or sports agents claim to provide. 

Nick brings together his national contacts and resources from Shark Jockey to create free educational content about NIL. This is focused on 3 primary goals. First, it is intended to reach young athletes and their families before they begin college in order to help them better prepare and maximize their potential to earn revenue. As a former student-athlete and employee of one of the most successful college athletic departments in history, Nick realizes that freshmen year is a very busy time full of rapid change. For this reason, it is absolutely imperative that parents and families develop resources and an action plan related to NIL prior to college.

Second, while leading multiple marketing agencies and businesses, Nick helped create the steps needed for them to begin offering some of the nation’s first NIL rewards to student-athletes. There are hundreds of questions and rapidly evolving guidelines for businesses to navigate. Resources inspired by Nick’s work are available on Businesses interested in additional help and techniques can click here to contact Nick Stover directly. (insert button to contact page on