In July of this year, the NCAA adopted a policy that enables collegiate athletes for the first time to “benefit from their name, image and likeness,” meaning they can make money from a brand endorsement — think being on the famed Wheaties box, or appearing at a car dealership, or mostly how they wield their powerful social media presences.
The rule has been a few years in the making and now that it’s been given the go-ahead, college athletes are already striking deals, especially on a local level, where I think smaller or independent stores or grocery chains have a real opportunity to partner and even promote their private brands. In fact, it seems like a natural fit for a local retailer to partner with a homegrown star as a way to challenge larger national brands who leverage big celebrity endorsements and influencer partnerships.
You see, I think when news of the NCAA policy change first broke, it was easy to immediately think about star athletes like Zion Willamson, now an NBA star with the New Orleans Pelicans, back when he was at Duke University and the potential money he could’ve made from endorsements. This still may likely happen, where a college athlete becomes as notable as Willamson was during his days at Duke, and finds his or her way into national commercials, on that Wheaties box or even into more lucrative deals.