By Tate Luckey
Louisville Athletics announced Wednesday that student-athletes can now sell officially licensed merchandise via the Louisville NIL Store.
Athletes on the site have a “digital locker room” featuring a collection of personalized merchandise ranging from graphic tees to comfort hoodies. Customers can shop either by sport or by a specific athlete.
A June 2022 trustees meeting revealed that nearly 400 athletes had signed some form of a deal since the NCAA permitted financial compensation for the use of an athlete’s name, image, or likeness in July of 2021. Over 200 companies have partnered with U of L athletes for deals including digital sponsorships and in-person event appearances. The average value of a deal is $1,500.
Students Weigh In
Paige McCormick, a senior swimmer, first created a relationship with the NIL Store team after attending the 2nd Annual NIL Summit in Atlanta, GA. Athletes are provided with a link from Zack McKay, the Director of NIL Services and Engagement.
“I would love to see more collaboration with the 502 Collective for the non-revenue generating sports such as lacrosse, track & field, and swimming. It would be great in the future to provide opportunities like the NIL Store with the collective– although it is separate from the university it still involves all of us athletes. I hope in the future as the 502 collective gains more traction more athletes can get those opportunities,” she said.
Senior Jason Krell, a track and field athlete, shares similar views with McCormick in support of the store. “It allows for smaller sports like track and field to compete with the larger sports in the sense that we all have equal opportunities to get our name out there and potentially turn a profit.”
He first heard about the NIL Store through a social media post from the athletics department, and it was Krell’s dad who encouraged him to sign up in the first place. “I thought, ‘Why not? If I have the chance to profit off my NIL, I might as well,'” he said.
“I was completely unaware that this was going to be a thing until it was made public that it would be launching in the coming weeks,” he said. “My sport is unique in the sense that we don’t have numbers that are tied to us so the options for merchandise may be limited compared to someone who plays football where you’re identifying players based on their number.” His merchandise instead will feature his best event time.
About the NIL Store
Powered by Campus Ink and the CARDS NIL Exchange, the Louisville NIL Store seeks to sign up student-athletes from across Louisville’s 21 Division I sports. The NIL Store network, backed by investor Marc Cuban, has 3 principles: NIL merchandise should be available to all athletes (not just some), they should come first in every conversation, and should make as much money as they possibly can on every sale. The NIL Store network of schools includes Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, LSU, Nebraska, Maryland, Mizzou, Michigan State, Duke, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, UConn, Rutgers, Iowa State, Florida State, and Northwestern.
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