Brave New World of NIL, College Athletes and Kool-Aid

Jordan Ingram Editorials

Did you know that Alabama freshman cornerback Ga’Quincy “Kool-Aid” McKinstry signed an endorsement deal with, wait for it,  Kool-Aid? Yup. It’s a new era of college football. For the first time ever, collegiate athletes are able to receive financial compensation for their name, image and likeness, or NIL, opening up a flood gate of cash for advertising and endorsement deals.

Let’s be real, it’s been a long time coming. And it’s only fair these student-athletes have the opportunity to benefit from a $4 billion industry that has, until now, primarily enriched corporate executives.

Do I think a player driving a Lamborghini to algebra class will create internal problems in the locker room with less-fortunate teammates still taking the bus to school? You bet.

But that’s capitalism, folks, ain’t she great?

For those still on the fence, it will take some time getting accustomed to 19-year-olds hawking fruit punch to diabetic America. Recently, I noticed Oregon Ducks star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux partnering up with DirecTV for a promotional deal for live streaming sports.

Honestly, it was kind of jarring. Maybe I am one of those sentimental folks that believed in the purity of unpaid sportsmen and women competing simply for the love of the game.

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As for Thibodeaux, my hat’s off to him. The edge rusher’s prowess navigating this brave new world has highlighted some exciting possibilities, including a non-fungible token (NFT), commissioned art and a six-figure memorabilia deal. Even Oregon linebacker Justin Flowe announced a partnership with Marshawn Lynch’s Beast Mode Marketing.

And there is all sorts of wheeling’ and dealing’ across the country. Hercy Miller, son of rapper Master P and incoming freshman commit at Tennessee State, signed the largest deal to date — a $2 million agreement with Web Apps America.

Todd Fierner

Kayvon Thibodeaux has been on the frontline of a new era in college athletics.

Miami Hurricanes teammates D’Eriq King and Bubba Boldenboth both signed a $20,000 deal with College Hunks Hauling Junk, a Florida moving service, per ESPN’s Jordan Schultz.

In July, Bojangles, a popular fast-food chain, announced an endorsement deal with Clemson’s D.J. Uiagalelei and North Carolina’s Sam Howell, who will be “making appearances on behalf of Bojangles and sharing content on their personal social media account.”

Jackson State’s Antwan Owens signed one of the first NIL deals with 3 Kings Grooming, a Black-owned hair product business, according to ESPN. For the ladies, Fresno State twin basketball stars Haley and Hanna Cavinder grabbed a deal with Boost Mobile, unveiling a giant poster in Times Square, and recently announced their own underwear line with PSD Underwear.

How is this all going to turn out? Don’t know. Probably fine. But more money brings more problems.

And with that much cash on the table, swindlers, grifters and hustlers will inevitably come out of the woodwork to get a taste. It’s a free for all and flim-flam men are licking their chops. Mark my words: Some kid is going to get burned and it will be ugly.

My hot take? Keep the money. I just want the Ducks to make the College Football Playoff.

Jordan Ingram
San Diego, California
Top Photo by Eric Evans, UO Athletics

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