- College athletes have been able to profit off their name, image, and likeness since July 2021.
- This college football season was the second full season in which players have been able to make NIL deals.
- This year saw big bucks, unique partnerships, and the extension of NIL deals into private philanthropy.
The college football landscape forever changed in 2021 when the NCAA implemented its policy allowing college athletes to make money off their name, image, and likeness (NIL).
Thanks to the policy, college athletes can secure endorsement deals, get paid for making personal appearances and signing autographs, and more after a July 2021 U.S. Supreme Court decision.
With the regular college football season wrapped up and bowl and championship season upon us, here are the biggest, craziest, and most innovative NIL deals that rocked the gridiron.
Game-Day Snack Paves the Way for NIL Deal
When the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers were on their way to a 31-0 win over Rutgers in October, cameras caught Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim eating Gushers on the sidelines. A few weeks later, the senior teamed up with Gushers, a General Mills product, for an NIL deal.
The deal included the creation of a limited edition Gushers box called the “Mo Pack,” which featured flavors like “Touchdown Splash” and “Tropical Rush.” Ibrahim graced the cover of the Mo Pack, which he gave away on his social media accounts in December.
On Dec. 29, Ibrahim and the Gophers will play in the Bad Boy Mowers Pinstripe Bowl against Syracuse University.
Wrangler Joins NIL World with Picture-Perfect Deal
University of Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers looks like he was made for a partnership with Wrangler.
The 6-foot-2 first-year starting quarterback dons his signature mullet and says his first pair of jeans were Wrangler. So naturally, Ewers partnered with the denim brand before the 2022 season to launch a collection of licensed collegiate apparel. Other Longhorns like baseball player Trey Faltine and softball players Lauren Burke and Mary Iakopo joined Ewers in the deal.
Wrangler also partnered with 31 other universities to sell officially licensed collegiate apparel, including the University of Alabama, the University of Florida, and the University of Oklahoma.
Official Dijon of Bijan
University of Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson will have plenty of opportunities to ink sponsorship deals when he enters the NFL draft next year. But for now, Robinson will have to settle for his own line of Dijon mustard.
Prior to the start of the 2022 season, Robinson released a gourmet Dijon mustard called “Bijan Mustardson.” The company says the mustard is so good, it tastes like a touchdown.
Thanks to Robinson’s success on the field, he’s been able to make deals with other companies like C4 Energy and Lamborghini Austin. On3 Sports reported that Robinson is allowed to drive a Lamborghini off the lot, and the contract is set to expire in spring 2023.
Decoldest Crawford Teams Up With Cooling Company
University of Nebraska Cornhuskers wide receiver Decoldest Crawford is living up to his name, thanks to a deal with SOS Heating & Cooling — an Omaha-based heating, ventilating, and air conditioning company.
In July, Crawford taped a commercial at SOS Heating & Cooling owner Jon Stuehm’s house the day before preseason camp opened. The commercial featured Crawford and Stuehm’s wife and daughter and was aired on local television during a Kansas City Chiefs-Chicago Bears NFL preseason game in August.
The deal was the perfect fit for SOS Heating & Cooling because the company has served as a radio sponsor of Nebraska football for 15 years.
“Tastiest Deal in NIL History”
There is no shortage of college football players with the last name Reese. And thanks to Reese’s, 12 football players with that last name across the country scored deals that provided Reese’s chocolate and peanut butter footballs and cups for the season, and “drip-worthy gear simply for having the best last name in the game.”
𝒮𝓌𝑒𝑒𝓉 𝒶𝓈 𝒾𝓉 𝒢𝑒𝓉𝓈, James Reese IV @Jlreese4 dripped out in the Official Reese’s University blazer and chain.
Reese is 1 of 12 collegiate athletes representing @Reeses NIL Line-up. #RoarCity x #GUTS pic.twitter.com/teu83t7NDH
— Tennessee State Football (@TSUTigersFB) October 26, 2022
Players involved in the deal were provided with a Reese’s Reese Chain, a custom-tailored blaze orange Team Reese travel blazer, a pair of custom cufflinks in the cup shape, and a mini fridge custom-made to fit into a locker to keep Reese’s footballs at the perfect temperature.
Team Reese includes:
- Andrew Reese, defensive back,Delaware State University
- Brody Reese, defensive lineman,University of Tulsa
- Cameron Reese, defensive end,Troy University
- Courtney Reese, running back,University of Nevada, Las Vegas
- David Reese, linebacker,University of Florida
- James Reese IV, defensive back,Tennessee State University
- John Reese Bellew, safety,Auburn University
- Max Reese, tight end,Eastern Michigan University
- Michael Reese, defensive end,Duke University
- Otis Reese, safety,University of Mississippi
- Quinton Reese, safety,Liberty University
- Richard Reese, running back,Baylor University
Music Business Enters NIL Landscape
Rapper Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang Entertainment music label and management company entered the NIL business by signing 25 college athletes to endorsement deals to promote Khalifa’s “45 Minute Beatdown” song on their Instagram accounts.
Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang Entertainment has signed 25 college athletes to endorsement deals 💰
Each athlete will be compensated for promoting Khalifa’s “45 Minute Beatdown” song on their social media
Taylor Gang becomes the first major music label to enter the NIL space pic.twitter.com/Lrg9YnbPE6
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 10, 2022
Each athlete recorded a video of themselves dancing to the song with a link to it in their Instagram stories. The deal is one of the first instances of a record label entering the NIL space. Signees of the deal include players from universities like Baylor, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Notre Dame, North Carolina, and other schools.
From the “Mailman” to “Milkman”
University of Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett was known as the “Mailman” since his time as a high school quarterback prospect. But thanks to his latest NIL deal with Georgia Dairy Alliance — a nonprofit that promotes dairy foods and knowledge about the dairy industry — the quarterback is switching his nickname from the Mailman to “Milkman.”
Bennett announced in a video advertisement for the deal that he was changing his nickname. The quarterback also has deals with Fanatics, AARP, Shuman Farms, and other businesses.
More Than Just a Name
University of Oklahoma Sooners quarterback General Booty has one of the most recognizable names in college football. So, to generate financial donations to the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, Booty launched More Than Just a Name — a website that sells T-shirts, hats, and other items featuring his name.
Some gear on the website comes with catchphrases like “Booty Call” and “I ♥️ Booty.”
Outside of the website, Booty announced in August that he would donate a percentage of his NIL funds to the Oklahoma Children’s Hospital. Booty said he has a special place in his heart for kids. And after visiting the hospital, he knew he wanted to support it.
Using NIL to Give Back
University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) defensive lineman Deslin Alexandre found a unique way to use his NIL to give back to youths in his home country of Haiti.
Thanks to a partnership with the Pittsburgh Kids Foundation, Alexandre launched The 5th Down Campaign — a fundraising effort to raise funds for basic needs like nutritious meals, school supplies, and a quality education for kids in Alexandre’s hometown of Cap-Haitien.
Each donation to The 5th Down Campaign went toward IDADEE, a Haitian-led community development organization that runs schools in Cap-Haitien and serves over 300 students and their families.
In total, Alexandre raised more than $54,500 for Cap-Haitien youths.
I am excited to share Fifth Down for Haiti. Starting today and running through December 2022, I am partnering with @PKFtweets to provide food, water, and tuition for children in Cap-Haitian, Haiti. Join our campaign and help us meet our $50,000 goal. Link in the bio. #H2P pic.twitter.com/L9t9NGW5r7
— Deslin Alexandre (@_Deslin) July 21, 2022
College Football’s First Underwear Model
University of Colorado (CU) Buffaloes offensive lineman Tommy Brown says, as a college football player, he’s used to millions of people seeing him in pants that “leave nothing to the imagination.” So, he decided to make some money while he’s at it.
Brown and the clothing brand Shinesty announced in October that the two are teaming up to allow the 6-foot-7, 330-pound graduate transfer to promote its men’s underwear. His deal appears to be the first to pay a college athlete to model underwear.
Meet College Football’s Hottest Underwear Model https://t.co/0d6UzGsG0y pic.twitter.com/M9fCgE54XT
— Shinesty (@Shinesty) October 28, 2022
Brown transferred from the University of Alabama, where he made the Southeastern Conference Honor Roll from 2018-2021, and is pursuing a master’s degree in organizational leadership at CU.