Vince Thompson is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of MELT (, the award-winning, Atlanta based sports, entertainment and culinary marketing agency.

Rarely do I agree with California Governor Gavin Newsome, but I will give him credit for opening the floodgates of a long-overdue conversation in college athletics, the usage of the student-athletes name, image and likeness, or NIL in our vernacular.

There is a lot of wailing, weeping and gnashing of teeth, some justified and some not, from many of the leadership in college athletics, but today, lets focus on what could be a positive and watershed moment for the current and future of student-athletes, especially non-revenue sports and athletics at all Division I, III and III schools.

Let’s start this conversation in the court of public opinion. The NCAA could do itself a lot of favors in the court of public opinion by embracing this issue instead of denying it. Most of the general public (and polling will reinforce this) agree student-athletes should be able to monetize their NIL no differently than any other college student who does not play college athletics…

Thompson’s point of view, formed from working nearly four decades in and around collegiate athletics, starting with his days as a student-assistant in The Auburn University Sports Information Department during the days of Bo Jackson and Charles Barkley. Thompson is a passionate advocate for career development among student-athletes and thinks that NIL could be a big factor in helping many student-athletes gain internships, career advancement, and job placement. He recently lectured to Auburn University student-athletes and the AuburnYOU program, which is a professional development initiative.

Thompson uses the Auburn University Women’s Equestrian team as a great example of how NIL and social media could be used in a positive manner to help position these student-athletes for careers in the equine industry, governing bodies or other relevant and endemic industries. In particular, non-revenue sports at every university could receive a major pr boost and new revenue for sports who otherwise struggle to generate revenue. This could also take the pressure off of athletic departments who are otherwise strained and struggle to provide funds and resources for non-revenue sports.

“This is a great, long and overdue debate about this opportunity for all student-athletes and I’m proud to be a part of the debate,” said Thompson. “These student-athletes are part of the most sophisticated generation of consumers there are, driven largely by technology, access to information, the ability to reach people like never before, mobile and wireless devices and social media, so why not have a discussion where we put the needs of the student-athletes first and create a rising tide for all involved?”


About MELT 

Founded by CEO Vince Thompson in 2000, MELT, LLC, is an Atlanta based fully-integrated sports, esports, entertainment culinary and lifestyle marketing agency offering clients advertising, original content development, digital, social media, event and experiential marketing, retail and consumer promotions, brand strategy and sports property evaluation and activation. MELT has won or has been nominated for the following industry awards since 2017:

  • 2019 BizBash Top 1,000 People in the U.S. Event Industry
  • 2019 Bronze Stevie Award (American Business Awards) – Company of the Year: Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations
  • 2019 Drum Marketing Awards USA Finalist- Best Event/Experiential Strategy: MELT & IHG’s Avid Hotels Pop-Up Tour
  • 2019 Interactive Marketing Awards – Shortlist
  • Best Social Media Campaign: MELT & Coca-Cola College Gameday Snapchat
  • Best Influencer/ Outreach Campaign: MELT & Coca-Cola Company Valser Influencer Strategy
  • 2019 Atlanta Magazine – Top 500 Business Leaders: Vince Thompson
  • 2018 BizBash500 List – Top 500 People in Events: Vince Thompson
  • 2018 Event Marketer Top 100 “It List”- Top 100 Agencies
  • 2018 Atlanta Business Chronicle Most Admired CEO: Vince Thompson
  • 2018 Silver Stevie Award- Brand Experience of the Year- Consumer: Taste of the Tournament for Kroger, Hershey’s, Mondelez & The Coca-Cola Company
  • 2018 PR News and Social Media Award- Best Use of Filter (Snapchat): Coca-Cola ESPN College Gameday
  • 2018 Social Good Influencers- Honorable Mention: MELT University
  • 2018 Cynopsis Sports Media Award – Honorable Mention for Use of Snapchat: Coca-Cola ESPN College Gameday
  • 2018 Shopper Marketing Effie Award – Multi-Brand/Manufacturer Shopper Solution: Taste of the Tournament for Kroger, Hershey’s, Mondelez, & The Coca-Cola Company
  • 2017 Experience Design and Technology Awards- Best Permanent or Pop-Up Retail Experience: The Coca-Cola Kitchen
  • 2017 Stevie (American Business Awards) – Marketing/Advertising Agency of the Year