NCAA allows athletes to profit off NIL; UM, D’Eriq King pounce on opportunity

UM's quarterback D'Eriq King (1) leaps for a second quarter touchdown as the University of Miami hosts the UAB Blazers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Thursday, September 10, 2020.
Quarterback D'Eriq King (1) leaps for a second quarter touchdown as the University of Miami hosts the UAB Blazers at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens on Thursday, September 10, 2020. Photo credit: ACC Media

A new era has officially begun for college sports.

The NCAA made history Wednesday afternoon announcing that college athletes will have the opportunity to benefit from their name, image and likeness (NIL) effective Thursday, July 1. NCAA athletes will now have the freedom to utilize their NIL to profit from a variety of sources, including social media posts and advertisements, autograph sales, merchandise and endorsements.

Dating back to 2019, when California passed the Fair Pay to Play Act, there has been increased momentum among state legislatures to pass NIL laws. The move by California was set to be implemented on Jan. 1, 2023, but it has since set off a ripple effect throughout the country with several other states following suit with their own NIL laws.

As of Thursday, 24 states have passed NIL laws, with 12 states – including Florida – passing laws that went into effect July 1. The remaining 12 will see their legislation implemented within the next four years.

As for the rest of the country, the NCAA determined in their policy that if a state has not yet adopted NIL laws, then student-athletes who attend college in those states will not be prohibited from benefiting from their NIL as long as they adhere to NCAA rules.

“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a press release. “With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level.”

In South Florida, the University of Miami welcomed the new NIL policy with open arms, announcing Wednesday that it has launched Ignite – a Hurricanes-affiliated NIL program. The program will be powered by sports technology company Opendorse, which maximizes the endorsement value of over 40,000 athletes worldwide by providing personal brand development and management resources.

“We’re excited to partner with Opendorse by launching our Ignite program across all of our sports,” Director of Athletics Blake James said. “Our goal at Miami is to Build Champions on and off the field, and a big part of that is providing our student-athletes with a platform like Opendorse to help build their personal brand and take full advantage of Florida’s NIL law, which goes into effect July 1.”

According to UM, the student-athletes accounted for 22.5 million video views, 284.8 million impressions, 8.6 million website clicks and 8.1 million engagements in 2020. With that in mind, the Miami Hurricanes will use the full slate of NIL resources Opendorse has to offer: Opendorse Ready, Social and Monitor.

“You have the unique opportunity as a Miami Hurricane to get a great education, compete for championships and build your brand in the heart of one of the world’s most recognized and dynamic cities,” football head coach Manny Diaz said in a statement. “We want our student-athletes to maximize their opportunities on NIL and Opendorse is providing significant resources to help us accelerate that process.”

Within the university, Hurricanes quarterback D’Eriq King has wasted little time seizing the opportunity to benefit from his NIL, making a flurry of moves shortly after midnight.

The Miami quarterback unveiled a personal website, where he will be selling apparel and signed memorabilia, and made history as the first Hurricane to sign a sponsorship deal under the new NCAA NIL legislation. Apparel fitted with King’s personal logo on his website range from a $29.99 cap to a $49.99 sweatshirt.

A screenshot taken of D'Eriq King's newly launched website, D'EriqKing.Shop.
A screenshot taken of D'Eriq King's newly launched website, D'EriqKing.Shop.
Fans can buy merchandise featuring King's personal logo and signed memorabilia.
Fans can buy merchandise featuring King's personal logo and signed memorabilia.

As of Thursday afternoon, King has signed four sponsorship deals within the first 24 hours of legal NIL monetization, agreeing to promote College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving, Murphy Auto Group, The Wharf and Dreamfield. King held a paid event Thursday night at The Wharf Miami, with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez in attendance.

One of King's four sponsorship deals was with The Wharf Miami, a local bar and restaurant. King, pictured with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (right) held an event at The Wharf Thursday afternoon to celebrate.
One of King's four sponsorship deals was with The Wharf Miami, a local bar and restaurant. King, pictured with Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (right) held an event at The Wharf Thursday afternoon to celebrate. Photo credit: Instagram, @WharfMiami

Through Dreamfield, King entered into a business partnership with cross-state rival and Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton. Together, they created a platform for student-athletes to maximize their NIL by providing a means to book live events, schedule autograph signings and host meet-and-greets.

Dreamfield will also allow King to explore the non-fungible token (NFT) market by encouraging the trading of digital sports cards, art and collectibles.

“We are entering a new era of technology that allows sports trading cards to move from the physical realm to the digital one, and I am proud to be on the forefront of this change,” King said in a statement to ESPN. “Being one of the first college athletes in history to have a high-quality NFT created in my likeness is a dream come true, and to help other athletes be memorialized in digital art through Dreamfield is a big reason why I helped create this company.”

Miami senior safety Bubba Bolden also signed a deal with College Hunks Hauling Junk. According to ESPN’s Jordan Schultz, the deal is worth $20,000 each for King and Bolden.

King's teammate and fellow senior Bubba Bolden (left) is pictured after signing an endorsement deal with College Hunks Moving Junk.
King's teammate and fellow senior Bubba Bolden (left) is pictured after signing an endorsement deal with College Hunks Moving Junk. Photo credit: Instagram, @collegehunks