New era in college sports: Memphis student-athletes profit off name, image and likeness

Updated: Jul. 1, 2021 at 10:00 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Over the past seven months the University of Memphis planned for the day student-athletes could start profiting off of their name, image and likeness.

“We knew this was coming into the NIL space sooner or later,” Executive Associate AD, Adam Walker said. Walker was on the committee that created the University of Memphis’ new program, ‘MaximUM.’ It will provide resources and help educate student-athletes on how to navigate their personal brands. According to Walker some ways athletes could profit are from, “Autographs, appearances, social, advertisements, could be a lot of things. Products, that’s another key area.”

There are restrictions. Every deal must be fair-market value, no inducements or pay-for-play. In Tennessee, gambling, tobacco, alcohol and adult entertainment are not allowed.

Popular Tigers already announced partnerships. Safety Quindell Johnson was the first Memphis student-athlete to announce his deal. He partnered with Yoke and will get paid to play video games with fans.

“We put our blood, sweat and tears into the school and the sport,” Johnson said. “It’s time for us to put our names out there and it’s a great opportunity for everybody.”

According to Walker, “It’s going to allow our fans, our supporters more access. The personal stories. Any time you get to know a student-athlete, that’s much better for them and for us.”

Walker hopes the U of M’s location in a metropolitan area will encourage local businesses to partner with student-athletes. He thinks it will also level the playing field as Memphis recruits against some of the biggest Division I schools. “I think it’ll definitely, long term, going to be a benefit for us,” he added.

Johnson’s teammate Jacobi Francis announced his partnership with Go-Puff, a snack delivery service.

Tiger’s basketball guard, Landers Nolley announced he’ll work with where he’ll create weekly video blogs to document his life on and off the court.

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