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SAN DIEGO – Roughly six months have gone by since the federal government allowed college and high school athletes to cash in on their name, image and likeness.

In that time, some athletes have prospered. Others still wonder how it all works.

A new company called Athliance is helping bridge that gap by working with colleges and athletes all around the country to keep them both on the right path while navigating this new terrain.

“More student-athletes are taking advantage of NIL than I think people anticipated,” Athliance CEO Peter Schoenthal said.

Through his app, Schoenthal has worked for the past year and a half to educate universities and student-athletes on how to take advantage of — and not get taken advantage of — these NIL opportunities.

“I actually hate the phrase NIL,” Schoenthal said. “It’s UNIL. You gotta use it. So student-athletes have to understand, they have to do something for it. Whether it’s a post or sign an autograph. You have to offer a service and it has to be fair market value.

“You’re a backup offensive lineman and you have 5,000 followers, and you’re getting $50K to sign autographs? That’s gonna raise some red flags.”

Schoenthal notes that student-athletes can’t receive pay-for-play incentives, nor can they receive money to attend a college. But they can get creative to use their name, image and likeness for more than just cash.

“I can reach out to my favorite restaurant and say, ‘I’m a college athlete, I’m not looking for money. But if I come in and I have 3,000 followers on my Instagram account and this is my favorite meal, what if I come in every night before a game and say this is how I fuel up?'” he said. “‘This is my pre-game meal, would you give me a free meal?’”

Schoenthal says computer analytics show that anyone with 3,500 followers and above can cash in on social media. Even high school athletes have that chance and some already have, such as former San Ysidro basketball star Mikey Williams.

“High school athletes, if they have a following and people want pay them and it’s fair market value, and they’re going to use their NIL and they offer a service to a brand that makes the brand stronger, they should be able to like any other person,” he said. “The best way to know what you can and cannot do is by educating yourself, and educating yourself on what the right deal is.”