Sports

What NIL deals are NCAA athletes making?

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

The twin sisters, who play for Fresno State’s basketball team and entertain millions of followers on social media, flew to New York on Wednesday to sign their first major endorsement deal. They are now spokeswomen for Boost Mobile with plans to promote the wireless telecommunications company in a variety of ways in the coming year. NCAA rules changes and state laws that went into effect 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 known company wanted to work with Hanna and me,” Haley Cavinder said. “… This is a big switch for all student-athletes. Being able to use your name, image and likeness is something we all deserve, and I’m really thankful the NCAA is finally passing this.”

Boost CEO Stephen Stokols told ESPN that the company has a list of 400 college athletes it hopes to partner with in the future. He said the Cavinders will be part of a national advertising campaign, but he’s interested in the appeal that many college athletes have on a local level. He said deals could range from annual contracts worth large sums of money to in-kind deals where Boost provides athletes with free cellphones and service plans in exchange for promoting the company on social media.

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

The Cavinders plan to connect with more companies and announce other partnerships within the next couple days. They also plan to monetize their popular social media feeds and start selling branded merchandise in the near future.

The twins are among the first college athletes to announce endorsement deals under new NCAA rules. The wide range and scope of deals coming to light Thursday showcase the myriad opportunities that creative college athletes will be able to profit from moving forward.

Here’s a small sample of some of the more noteworthy athletes, brands and campaigns announcing new ventures on the first day of a new era in college sports.

• Florida State QB McKenzie Milton and Miami QB D’Eriq King signed on as co-founders of Dreamfield Co., a business built to help athletes pursue speaking events, public appearances and other new opportunities. Milton and King will help promote the tech-based platform. They also plan to be among the first college athletes to create nonfungible tokens to sell to fans in the near future.

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

• Unilever plans to spend $5 million over the next five years in partnerships with college athletes promoting the deodorant brand Degree. A company spokesperson said it plans to spend equal amounts of money on male and female athletes that come from a diverse range of sports and backgrounds. Unilever will be relying on fans to help it find athletes with unique stories worth featuring.

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

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

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