University of Tennessee NIL Deal Lets All Football Players Profit From Sales of Team Branded T-shirt
The new name, image and likeness rules in the NCAA, now commonly referred to as “NIL,” are giving student-athletes the chance to monetize themselves for the first time. A lot of the campaigns are from superstar football and basketball players looking to capitalize on the hype before they go pro, but a lot of other athletes in less-televised sports are still getting in on it through various licensing groups.
To that point, the odds of making it to the NFL, even if you’re on an elite college football team like the University of Tennessee, are small. But, through a licensing agreement with Knoxville-based Spyre Sports Group and DW Designs, every player on the Vols football team will make money from a new branded T-shirt campaign.
The T-shirt, which is gray with the word “Attack” in orange, is a reference to former UT coach Johnny Majors. Proceeds from sales of the T-shirt will go to Vols players.
We've joined @spyresports with @Vol_Football athletes for this historic release in a team-wide endorsement featuring our original TN Attack design.
Inspired by the team's pursuit to always play fearless and "Attack"
Portion of the proceeds go directly to the players #NIL #VFL pic.twitter.com/O5pFprx7ei
— The DW Designs (@thedwdesigns) August 30, 2021
Besides the direct monetary benefits for players, the shirt is a way for the school to recruit future student-athletes. High school recruits now have to take into account how NIL-friendly their prospective teams are. Schools like UCF started including marketing as part of their recruitment package, and UNC already has a full branding agency program in place. This universal program for UT promises recruits that even if they aren’t the most marketable player on the field, they’re still getting in on the action.
“Most NIL deals across the country have been focused on skill player positions (quarterback, running back, receiver),” Spyre Sports co-owner Hunter Baddour told WYMT. “We thought this was a great deal because it’s something the whole team can be a part of and benefit from, including players that aren’t on scholarship but still come to practice to help better the team.”
For promotional products distributors, one of the initial concerns was that marketing spend at universities would be affected by these new rules. Sure, there will be instances where players go to outside agencies and want to do things independently, especially if they’re big-name stars with professional ambitions. But with programs like this, distributors and printers can still work with university athletics programs to create new types of merchandise-centric campaigns.