Darren Rovell and Caitlin Clark. Darren Rovell (L, via a 2015 Awful Announcing piece) and Caitlin Clark (in a Feb. 28, 2024 game, via Matt Krohn, USA Today Sports.)

One conversation of note over the past few years after the expansion of name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights in NCAA competitions has been the idea that top women’s sports athletes are losing out on money by going from the college ranks to the pros. There’s been a lot of well-sourced pushback against that, including discussions of how most NIL endorsement deals have wound up transferring to the pros as the player does. But that hasn’t stopped figures like Darren Rovell (currently independent, formerly with Action Network, ESPN, CNBC and more) from claiming that athletes like Iowa Hawkeyes’ women’s basketball star Caitlin Clark will lose money by going pro:

There are plenty of reasons to dispute that take, including past studies from Chantal Jennings of The Athletic last May and Leila MacKenzie of USC’s The Daily Trojan last month suggesting that most NCAA endorsements transfer to the pro ranks. And yes, some particular NIL deals are from local businesses or boosters determined to see an athlete play at a specific institution, and yes, those can go away with a decision to go pro.

However, a move to the pros can also increase the national appeal of an athlete. There are many who are willing to bash the idea that staying in the NCAA is somehow more financially beneficial. And that’s perhaps especially true when this was an idea advanced by Rovell, someone previously known for ESPN, CNBC, ESPN again, and Action Network work, but someone who took criticism at all of those stops. Here’s some of the backlash that Rovell’s post took:

So, offering this take without any level of supporting evidence did not particularly go great for Rovell. And it does seem likely that moving to the WNBA will work out just fine for Clark.

[Darren Rovell on Twitter/X; images from Awful Announcing and Matt Krohn/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.