With The NCAA's New NIL Rule, HBCUs And Their Athletes Are Getting Ahead Of The Game
From signing endorsement deals with Black-owned brands to ensuring players are protected down the line, HBCUs and their players are dotting their i's and crossing their t's around the NCAA's announcement.
July 08, 2021 at 4:41 am
College athletes are finally getting paid.
On June 30, the NCAA announced that college athletes legally have the opportunity to profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL). The rule change means all incoming and current student-athletes across all sports can sign endorsement deals with brands, appear in advertisements for money and accept gifts without fear of repercussion. It's also a monumental moment for well-known student-athletes whose likeness universities have profited off of with zero reimbursement and others who could support families back home without ever going pro.
The deals to come from the new NIL rule have the ability to change the life of any competitor.
It hasn't even been two weeks since the rule change took effect and HBCUs and players attending said institutions are setting themselves up for success.
Antwan Owens, a senior at Jackson State, became the first college athlete to sign an endorsement contract minutes after the NIL policy went into effect midnight on July 1. According to Sports Illustrated, the defensive end reached an agreement with Three Kings Grooming, a Black-owned brand that specializes in hair products.
An @SINow Exclusive | Antwan Owens, a Jackson State D-end, just became the nation’s first athlete to sign an NIL deal.
In a midnight ceremony in NYC, he inked with Three Kings Grooming, a black-owned hair product shop.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) July 1, 2021
"This is something that’s going to be life changing, generationally life changing," Owens said to Sports Illustrated.
And he has a point. The profits to come from the deals, could potentially jumpstart generational wealth for the families of young athletes, something discrimination has statistically robbed Black Americans from achieving.
Per Sports Illustrated, three other Jackson State football players will also have deals with Three Kings Grooming. Head coach and retired NFL legend Deion Sanders reportedly played a huge role in selecting the players to cash in on the opportunity.
"It is PRIMETIME and about time that our student-athletes have an opportunity to make MONEY off of their name, image, and likeness," Sanders said. "I am thrilled that these athletes can now financially and personally benefit from all that they do for their institutions and communities. This is a tremendous step in the right direction.”
Another athlete, who hasn't even played his first college game, is already making himself known to companies and competitors alike.
If the name Hercy Miller sounds oddly familiar, the incoming Tennessee State basketball freshman is the son of rapper Master P. Upon the NIL rule change taking effect, became $2 million richer after signing with technology firm Web Apps America to become a brand ambassador.
But he's not splurging on new clothes or cars. Miller's putting the money right back into the community, per Yahoo Sports. the 19-year-old plans to front the costs of gift bags for the participants of the "Books and Ball" camp Miller and his father will hold on July 21 at Tennessee State's Gentry Center.
"He said, 'For our camp I'm making sure all the kids have book bags filled with school supplies,'" Master P said of his son's decision. "That's what I'm talking about. Whoever makes it, they've got to give back."
Another HBCU is making sure NIL- sponsored athletes are getting the proper education and consulting before putting pen to paper. In an effort to make the process easier for their student-athletes, Florida A&M University announced a five-year partnership with content platform INFLCR and Teamworks to help prepare them in the marketing and technology space while also developing their personal brands.
Upon becoming registered with INFLCR, players will have access to a wide range of data that measures, assesses, and analyzes their likeness in order to craft a tailored personal brand that resonates with a wide range companies. Consequently, this will help strengthen their academic and career chances.
Finally, a big concern with the NIL rule change is whether unfairness could arise if more popular names secure a larger bag than those who are lesser known. So, Howard University President Dr. Wayne Fredrick testified before Congress on June 9 and advocated for revenue sharing. This method will not eliminate less lucrative programs but rather give them an opportunity to still bring the D.C. institution a national title.
"Being able to recruit athletes to win a national championship, to increase your brand, to get more resources for the bigger good of the rest of the student population hasn’t been there,” Dr. Fredrick explained per HBCU Gameday. "I just want to make sure some of these laws — as we look at them and as we look at the national law — we don’t double-down on that disadvantage and really ensure that an HBCU never again wins a national championship. Because that’s where we’re heading."
The NIL policy will be upheld until federal legislation or the NCAA approve new guidelines.