NCAA athletes benefit from name, image and likeness


Hanna and Haley Caviinder only waited a few minutes after the clock struck midnight before taking advantage of new opportunities for varsity athletes to cash in on their fame.

The twin sisters, who play for the Fresno State basketball team and entertain millions of followers on social media, flew to New York on Wednesday to sign their first major sponsorship deal. They are now spokespersons for Boost Mobile and plan to promote the wireless carrier in various ways over the coming year. NCAA rule changes and state laws that came into effect on July 1 opened the door for college athletes to sell the rights to their names, images and likenesses for the first time.

“It was really exciting that such a well-known company wanted to work with Hanna and me,” said Haley Caviinder. “… This is a big change for all student athletes. Being able to use your name, your image and your likeness is something we all deserve, and I am truly grateful that the NCAA has finally embraced it.”

Boost CEO Stephen Stokols told ESPN the company has a list of 400 college athletes they hope to partner with in the future. He said the Caviinders will be part of a national advertising campaign, but he is interested in the appeal that many college athletes have locally. He said deals could range from high-value annual contracts to in-kind deals where Boost provides athletes with free cell phones and service plans in return for promoting the company on social media.

“A lot of these guys are local heroes,” Stokols said. “We think this is a great opportunity to go regional and local with names relevant to these markets. … We want to be one of the biggest companies to adopt [the college-athlete marketplace] early. We hope to play a role in helping to shape it. There are a lot of gray areas that will hopefully be better defined a year from now. “

The Cavinders, who have worked with tech company Icon Source to find opportunities, have also announced a partnership with Six Star Pro Nutrition and plan to explore other potential deals in the coming days. They also plan to monetize their popular social media feeds and start selling branded products in the near future.

The twins are among the first college athletes to announce sponsorship deals under the new NCAA rules. The wide range and scope of agreements highlighted on Thursday present the countless opportunities that creative varsity athletes can take advantage of moving forward.

Here is a small sample of some of the most notable athletes, brands and campaigns announcing new business on the first day of a new era in varsity sport.

• Florida State QB McKenzie Milton and Miami QB D’Eriq King have signed on as co-founders of Dreamfield Co., a company created to help athletes organize conferences, public appearances and other new opportunities. Milton and King will help promote the technology platform. They also plan to be among the first college athletes to create non-fungible tokens to sell to fans in the near future.

• Iowa basketball player Jordan Bohannon plans to celebrate his new independence with a paid appearance at an Iowa City fireworks store this weekend. Bohannon, who was a leader of the #NotNCAAProperty group that lobbied for more player rights at this year’s March Madness tournament, also plans to partner with a local cryotherapy company, monetize their podcast and start to sell personal products through an online storefront.

• Nebraska volleyball player Lexi Sun sells designer sweatshirts through volleyball clothing company Ren. She is one of the many athletes who are launching their own clothes this week. The roster includes Kentucky basketball player Dontaie Allen, Texas soccer players DeMarvion Overshown and Josh Thompson, and Miami’s D’Eriq King.

• Five members of the Jackson State football team – Aubrey Miller, CJ Holmes, Tony Gray, Antwan Owens and Warren Newman III – have signed an agreement with 3 Kings Grooming products. Owens was in New York to officially sign his contract at midnight Thursday.

• Unilever plans to spend $ 5 million over the next five years in partnerships with college athletes promoting the Degree deodorant brand. A spokesperson for the company said it plans to spend equal amounts on male and female athletes from a wide range of sports and backgrounds. Unilever will rely on fans to help them find athletes whose unique stories are worth presenting.

• Runza, a Lincoln, Nebraska-based restaurant chain, on Wednesday announced plans to offer a flat rate to the top 100 Nebraska-based college athletes who promote the company’s rewards program on their social media.

• Auburn QB Bo Nix announced an endorsement with Milo’s Sweet Tea shortly after midnight on his Instagram account.

• Former Notre Dame football player Mick Assaf said his company, Yoke, had onboarded hundreds of varsity athletes since midnight Thursday. The Yoke app allows athletes to earn money by playing video games with fans. Fares for athletes range from a few dollars for a game to a few hundred dollars for their bigger clients, such as NFL wide receivers Antonio Brown and Chase Claypool. Yoke expects to have several thousand athletes from a wide variety of sports and schools on the app by the end of the week.

• Marshall’s offensive lineman Will Ulmer will no longer have to use the pseudonym “Lucky Bill” or pass money when playing live country music at venues near the Thundering Herd campus. Ulmer, who has been playing music since the age of 8, told ESPN he hopes to start making money by booking concerts this summer. He said he was previously not licensed to promote any of his shows.

• Arkansas extended athlete Trey Knox and his dog, Blue, have partnered with PetSmart, opening the possibility for thousands of athletes and their pets across the country.

Avoid the big disappointment

Steve Kennedy, founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Fans Meet Idols, hopes his startup attracts its fair share of student-athletes who fit what he calls Level II – players who aren’t as well-known as somebody else. ‘one like former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but still has fans.

“We talk to people and say, ‘We’re trying to help you avoid the big disappointment,’” Kennedy said. “There’s all this hype and we’re talking directly to the student-athletes, and they’re telling us that they’re buying into the hype and expecting something to monetize their NIL in some form or another. this rude awakening that they’re going to find out that they don’t have enough social media followers or that they don’t have a big enough brand yet. “

Kennedy’s company has already recruited 42 student-athletes from 10 schools, including Auburn, Baylor, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ohio State, and Texas A&M. His clients include Louisville volleyball players Alexa Hendricks and Anna DeBeer, goalie Ole Miss Ashley Orkus, Texas A&M safety Demani Richardson and Georgia pitcher Jaden Woods. Woods offers a personalized video message for $ 39.99, an audio message for $ 19.99, and a social media interaction for $ 25.99.

Kennedy said that one of his clients, a basketball player from Georgia Tech, knew how to play the clarinet, saxophone and piano, so he is considering offering music lessons. Another female athlete will be offering video cooking lessons. Another student-athlete plans to offer 30-minute sessions playing with fans in video games like NBA 2K.

“You can’t go from 3,500 subscribers to 50,000 in less than a year,” Kennedy said. “It just doesn’t happen unless you’re lucky and go viral. Schools are trying to help student-athletes change that, but what are you doing in the meantime? The good news is that the fans don’t care about the brand or your social media followers. They are fans of these student-athletes because of who they already are. “

Kennedy noted that his clients come from nine sports, including football, men’s basketball, volleyball, swimming and diving, women’s golf, baseball, and men’s and women’s soccer. He said two-thirds of his clients so far are women. – Marc Schlabach

Stay tuned throughout the day for other notable mentions as they are announced.

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