NBA veteran J.R. Smith, who is now playing golf as a student-athlete at North Carolina A&T State University, has become the first former professional athlete to sign with an agent for possible NIL deals. Smith achieved the historic feat when he signed with Excel Sports for NIL representation, ESPN reports

The 36-year-old is able to benefit from the NCAA's new policy, which allows college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness. Smith, who earned about $90 million in salary during his NBA career, now has a chance to earn six figures in endorsement deals. According to NBC Sports, Smith's agent, Lance Young, said the golfer is already attracting NIL interest from clothing manufacturers, golf equipment and video game companies. 

The NCAA's NIL rules prohibit Smith from promoting his sponsors at NCAA-sanctioned events. However, he is allowed to appear in commercials and promote products on social media, CBS Sports reports.

The HBCU freshman, now in his second semester, played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers during his NBA career. Smith, who earned the Sixth Man of the Year Award during the 2012-13 season with the Knicks, also won an NBA championship with the Cavaliers and the Lakers. The HBCU student-athlete achieved a 4.0 GPA in his first semester, as Blavity previously reported

As he proceeds with his academic and athletic career at N.C. A&T, an HBCU in Greensboro, North Carolina, Smith has expressed his desire to see more Black golfers on the collegiate stage. 

“One of my biggest goals is to continuously try to recruit and help get people here who have the talent and capabilities to actually, you know, keep going,” Smith told The Undefeated.