Like it, love it, loathe it, it doesn't matter. The name, image, and likeness (NIL) era in Michigan college sports has arrived and with it some data to crunch.

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If you're new to the NIL Era, then here's a quick refresher on how college athletes are now able to profit from their efforts on the field, in addition to full-ride scholarships.

How 'Name, Image, and Likeness' (NIL) Works for Michigan College Athletes

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Each state has its own regulations for NIL and Michigan joined the party when Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 5217 into law on December 30, 2020, which allowed athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness, effective December 31, 2022.

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Michigan's NIL law states that student-athletes can do endorsement deals, ad campaigns, and hire an agent. The bill also protects athletes from being unfairly punished for their earnings by a college. The scholarships remain the same but, the institutions themselves have no responsibility for facilitating NIL opportunities for those enrolled.

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There are a lot of NIL no-nos too, like the restrictions on apparel endorsements that might go against an existing relationship held by the college or team itself. So if a Michigan school has a deal with Nike, athletes can't wear Puma cleats in the game.

Related: Dangerous Education: Michigan Campus Ranked Most Violent in US

Taking the polarizing nature of this topic and setting it aside, let's look at which names in collegiate and amateur athletics have financially benefitted the most in the NIL Era, and which Michigan athlete is among the Top 19 Highest Paid Athletes in College Sports.

These 19 College Athletes Are the NIL's Highest Earners

Who is the highest-paid collegiate athlete in the NIL Era? MoneyInc took to a variety of sources to determine each athlete's earnings and net worth, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Athletic Director UESPNUKnight-Newhouse College Athletics Database as well as news and industry sites like The BoardroomAssociated Press, and Reuters.

Gallery Credit: Scott Clow

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