The idea for Contact College Athletes came about in early July 2021, when pondering a few simple questions.

  • If I were running a small business looking to strike an NIL deal with a college athlete, where would I even begin?
  • What does the landscape of college athletes’ social-media accounts look like? Take football, for instance. How is anybody supposed to have a complete picture of how many followers — and what type of follower growth — a Pac-12 linebacker has, but also an AAC offensive lineman and a Big Ten running back? How does anybody have the bandwidth to know that?
  • How, most importantly, is a business supposed to know if their investment in an NIL deal is a good one? And that there isn’t a better option out there?

It was with those questions in mind that we, the Contact College Coaches team, started building.

As the Founder/CEO of Contact College Athletes, Eric Van Dril took processes and principles used to build his first site, Contact College Coaches, and applied them to start constructing Contact College Athletes.

Founder/CEO Eric Van Dril

He amassed complete lists of every Division I athlete who plays men’s basketball, women’s basketball, football and women’s volleyball. That was the starting point. Then, he worked with the team of data specialists at Contact College Coaches to compile the Twitter and Instagram accounts of every athlete in those four sports — no small feat, given the multitude of technical hurdles that had to be cleared in doing so.

When that was done, the data specialists spent months building a system that allows for each player’s follower counts to be tracked every two weeks. They were to be included. This added a vital element to the database: a measure of growth over various intervals of time.

Months of quality-control checks followed to get rid of the bugs in the data and processes — and a soft launch followed at the beginning of 2022.

The feedback included: adding TikTok accounts/data would be extremely helpful, and so would any publicly-listed email accounts. TikTok accounts will be added by the end of February, and will start being tracked bi-weekly when they’re added. Email addresses were added on January 30th.

New sports — baseball, softball, beach volleyball, women’s gymnastics and women’s swimming — will also be launched in the coming months. So too will lists for high-level high-school athletes. 

The ultimate goal is to build and offer lists of every sport — at every level.

Together, Contact College Athletes’ set of databases will help marketing companies, agencies, NIL platforms/marketplaces and businesses answer the set of questions that Eric Van Dril and his team initially set out to answer.

Most importantly, it provides a starting point — taking the simple, but totally-overwhelming question of “Where do we even start?” and providing an answer.