On July 1st college sports saw a long-awaited change that shocked the foundation of amateur sports forever. Finally, college athletes could begin profiting off of their name, image, and likeness. Right away the top college, and even some high school, stars began signing deals worth hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars. And while many of these athletes are playing at Division I NCAA schools, many athletes enrolled at HBCUs have also begun cashing in on the new rules.
HBCUs have seen a huge increase in attention in the media, spearheaded by professional athletes such as Chris Paul and Lebron James, over the past 2 years. For too long, the athletes and programs at these schools had been overlooked, not anymore.
The first HBCU athlete to sign an endorsement deal was Ky’Wuan Dukes, a star wide receiver at Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina. Dukes, a Freshman Redshirt, signed a deal with famous Charlotte-based fried chicken fast-food chain Bojangles. Both Dukes and Bojangles are very excited about the new partnership.
Other players that have signed deals include Alabama A&M receiver Zabrian Moore and running back Gary Charles, who signed deals with Boost Mobile. In addition to Moore and Charles, Jackson State University star defensive end Antwan Owen inked an agreement with Three Kings Grooming, a Black-owned, hair product shop based in New York. Norfolk State University’s Rayquan Smith also signed a lucrative deal with popular athletic brand Eastbay. The star Runningback was the featured athlete in their #Betheone campaign, showcasing his elite footwork in the main video ad.
The largest deal signed featuring an HBCU athlete was earned by incoming Tennessee State Freshman Hercy Miller. The incoming college hoops star has signed a 4 year, $2 million endorsement deal with tech company Web Apps America, according to his father and hip hop legend Master P. Miller will become the first HBCU athlete, and one of the first college athletes, to sign a multi-million dollar deal. Miller chose to sign with Tennessee State despite receiving offers from top NCAA schools such as UCLA, USC, LSU, and Missouri. Demonstrating how the recent increase in media coverage has made HBCUs a more competitive alternative to NCAA programs to top recruits.
Florida A&M has taken the first step in response to the new NIL rules to help their players put themselves in the best position to succeed. FAMU announced a 5-year partnership with INFLCR and Teamworks to help prepare its student-athletes with marketing, education, and resources to help build their personal brands. As players are finally able to profit off their abilities, it is very important that they are given the proper tools to help manage their money. It is nice to see an institution like FAMU address those priorities for its players.
As HBCUs continue to rise in fame, more players will choose them as their next step after high school. This means that larger names will be playing in these conferences and bringing large endorsement deals with them.