The NCAA has been accused of cashing in on its brand, which has led to a number of high profile lawsuits. The most recent involves two former UCLA basketball players, but the lawsuits go back further than that. Both the University of North Carolina and the University of Southern California have been named in lawsuits alleging the NCAA takes advantage of its brand name.
With the new collective bargaining agreement signed by the NCAA, athletes will no longer be allowed to profit from the use of their name, image, likeness or any other public performance of their athletic performance. While this might sound like good news to some, others might just see it as the lack of a financial incentive for student-athletes to perform at a high level.
Hannah and Haley Cavinder waited until a few minutes after the clock struck midnight to take advantage of another opportunity for college athletes to exploit their fame.
The twin sisters, who play on the Fresno State basketball team and have millions of followers on social media, traveled to New York on Wednesday to sign their first major sponsorship deal. They are now spokespersons for Boost Mobile and plan to promote the mobile phone company in various ways over the next year. Changes to NCAA rules and state laws that took effect July 1 have opened the door for college athletes to sell the rights to their name, image and likeness for the first time.
It was very exciting that such a well-known company wanted to work with Hannah and me, Haley Cavinder said. … This is a big adjustment for all student-athletes. The ability to use his name, likeness, and image is something we all deserve, and I’m really glad the NCAA finally made that decision.
The Cavinder twins are Fresno State’s top scorers, but they are best known for their fame on TikTok. The new NCAA NIL rules have allowed Hannah and Haley to enjoy their fame. Samuel Marshall Photography
Stephen Stokols, CEO of Boost, told ESPN that the company has a list of 400 athletes with whom it plans to work in the future. He said Cavinders will be part of a national advertising campaign, but he is interested in the appeal that many college athletes have locally. He says the deals can range from annual contracts for large sums of money to in-kind services in which Boost provides athletes with free cell phones and data plans in exchange for the company’s social media advertising.
Many of these guys are local heroes, Stokols said. We believe this is an excellent opportunity to communicate regionally and locally with relevant names in these markets. …We want to be an early adopter. We hope to contribute to its development. There are many grey areas that will hopefully be better defined in a year’s time.
On the TIME SQUARE WHAT LIFE IS…. blessed❤️ billboard pic.twitter.com/ZyA4Uim5zB
– Hannah Cavinder (@CavinderHanna) July 1, 2021
Cavinders, which has partnered with technology company Icon Source to explore opportunities, also announced a partnership with Six Star Pro Nutrition and plans to explore other potential deals in the coming days. They also plan to monetize their popular social media channels and start selling branded products in the near future.
The Twins were one of the first college athletes to announce merchandising deals under the new NCAA rules. The size and scope of the contracts announced Thursday show just how many opportunities creative college athletes can pursue in the future.
Here’s a small sampling of the most notable athletes, brands and campaigns that announced new initiatives on the first day of a new era in college sports.
– Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton and Miami quarterback D’Eric King are co-founders of Dreamfield Co. a company that helps athletes make appearances, public appearances and other new opportunities. Milton and King will help promote the technology platform. They also plan to be one of the first college athletes in the near future to make chips outside of the game to sell to fans.
– On 1. In July, Florida State offensive lineman Dillan Gibbons announced he would use the new rule changes to raise money through GoFundMe to help his friend Timothy Donovan, who has an incurable disease that affects the nerves in his hands and feet. Gibbons said he plans to use the money raised to send Donovan and his family to a Seminoles game in Tallahassee this season.
For my first attempt at using my name, picture and likeness, I opened this gofundme page so my friend Timothy could go to the FSU v Notre Dame game on Sunday the 5th. September 2021, can drive. Please use the link in my bio, read our story and send a donation! pic.twitter.com/WDwtMshN2J
– Dillan R. Gibbons (@GibbonsDillan) July 1, 2021
– Iowa basketball player Jordan Bohannon plans to celebrate his newfound independence this weekend with a show at a fireworks store in Iowa City. Bohannon, who led the #NotNCAAProperty group that advocated for self-determination during this year’s March Madness tournament, also plans to partner with a local cryotherapy company, monetize his podcast and sell personal items through an online store.
– Nebraska volleyball star Lexi Sun sells branded sweatshirts through Ren, a company that sells volleyball apparel. She was one of many athletes who came out with their own clothes this week. Kentucky basketball player Dontaye Allen, Texas football players DeMarvion Overshawn and Josh Thompson, and Miami D Eric King are on the list.
I’m excited to partner with @theplayerstrunk and launch my own product. Stay informed all year long! Go Support Link in Bio pic.twitter.com/YGpi0sriIq
– Dontaie A11en (@dontaieallen11) July 1, 2021
– Five members of the Jackson State football team – Aubrey Miller, C.J. Holmes, Tony Gray, Antoine Owens and Warren Newman III – have signed with 3 Kings Grooming. Owens was in New York for the official signing of the contract at midnight Thursday.
– Unilever plans to spend $5 million over the next five years on partnerships with top athletes to promote its Degree deodorant brand. A company spokesperson said the company plans to give equal amounts to male and female athletes from different sports and backgrounds. Unilever relies on fans to help find athletes with unique stories.
– Runza, a Lincoln, Nebraska-based restaurant chain, announced Wednesday that it will award a lump sum to the first 100 Nebraska athletes who promote the company’s rewards program on their social media channels.
– Auburn QB Bo Nix announced the collaboration with Milo’s Sweet Tea shortly after midnight on his Instagram account.
– Former Notre Dame football player Mick Assaf says his company, Yoke, has hired hundreds of college athletes since midnight Thursday. The Yoke app allows athletes to earn money by playing video games with fans. Prices for athletes range from a few dollars per game to a few hundred dollars for the biggest customers, like NFL receivers Antonio Brown and Chase Claypool. Yoke hopes to have several thousand athletes from different sports and schools on the app by the end of the week.
– Marshall’s offensive midfielder, Will Ulmer, no longer has to use the pseudonym Lucky Bill or hand over money when he plays country music at venues near the Thundering Herd campus. Ulmer, who has been studying music since he was eight. of two years, told ESPN that he hopes to make money by performing concerts this summer. He said he used to not be allowed to promote his shows.
Now that the NCAA has given the green light, I will be performing live as Will Ulmer !!!! this year. I am open to all locations and business opportunities!!! DM if you’re interested, let’s make some music pic.twitter.com/iniLdoz2ye
– Will Ulmer (@UlmerWill) July 1, 2021
– Arkansas wide receiver Trey Knox and his dog Blue have partnered with PetSmart to bring this opportunity to thousands of athletes and their pets across the country.
We got our first deal on the NCAA dogs
Trey Knox and his Husky Blue have signed a deal with PetSmart.
I’ve always been proud to be an Arkansas football player, but I’m just as proud to be a dog dad pic.twitter.com/lta1J6flae
– Front Office Sports (@FOS) 1 July 2021
Preventing major losses
Steve Kennedy, founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Fans Meet Idols, hopes his startup will get its share of student-athletes he calls second-tier players – players who aren’t as well-known as, say, former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but who still have fans.
We talk to people and we talk: We’re trying to help you avoid a lot of frustration, Kennedy said. It’s all hype and we talk directly to student-athletes. They tell us that they believed the hype and expect their NIL to be monetized somehow. They get a rude awakening when they discover they don’t have enough followers on social media or that their brand isn’t big enough yet.
Kennedy has already contracted 42 student-athletes from 10 schools, including Auburn, Baylor, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ohio State and Texas A&M. Among his clients are Louisville volleyball players Alexa Hendricks and Anna DeBeer, Ole Miss goalkeeper Ashley Orkus, Texas A&M defender Demani Richardson and Georgia pitcher Jaden Woods. Woods offers personalized video messaging for $39.99, audio messaging for $19.99 and social media interaction for $25.99.
Kennedy said one of his clients, a basketball player from Georgia Tech, can play the clarinet, saxophone and piano, so he is considering offering music lessons. Another athlete will offer video cooking classes. Another student-athlete plans to play video games, like NBA 2K, for 30 minutes with fans.
Kennedy says you can’t go from 3,500 to 50,000 subscribers in less than a year. It doesn’t happen unless you get lucky and go viral. Schools are trying to help student athletes change that, but what can be done in between? The good news is that fans don’t care about the brand or your fans on social media. They are fans of these student-athletes for whom they already are.
Kennedy noted that his clients represent nine sports, including football, men’s basketball, volleyball, swimming and diving, women’s golf, baseball, men’s and women’s soccer. So far, he says, two-thirds of his clients are women. — Mark Schlabach
Stay tuned throughout the day for key support as it is announced.
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