Welcome to the future of college athletics.
This July ushers a time like never before in the sport. Starting midnight July 1, student-athletes are now allowed to benefit off their name, image and likeness — commonly referred to as NIL.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed an NIL bill into law in April, which was to take effect July 1. The NCAA dragged its feet over a universal ruling on the matter — as opposed to leaving logistics up to individual states’ lawmakers — but eventually voted the last day of June to approve an interim NIL policy until federal legislation is adopted.
So what can and can’t student-athletes do under these new rules? For starters, the NCAA’s ruling simply opens the gates for players to engage in NIL; they still must do so abiding by their state’s individual NIL law(s).
Players are allowed to use agents, attorneys and liaisons to represent them in likeness-profiting discussions, and that respective universities cannot limit a player’s access to NIL compensation or compensate their own student-athletes via university funds.
Coaches, boosters and other individuals directly associated with a college or college athletics program cannot sponsor a student-athlete.
All NIL activities and compensation must be reported to respective programs, and all schools must be made aware of prospective deals before they are signed. As a result, student-athletes cannot partner with companies and organizations centered around tobacco products, alcohol, gambling, etc. At Auburn, players will not be allowed to receive a sponsorship with any athletic brand other than Under Armour.
After leaders within the athletic department met over the subject for months, Auburn began to educate its players on its NIL stipulations, guidelines and advantages earlier this offseason with the SPIRIT program, which launched at AU on May 20.
The educational program will be available to all Auburn student-athletes in an attempt to help players earn compensation in the future off their likeness in the form of social media influence, advertising, autographs and more.
“Enhanced programing with assistance from industry leading experts will be available to all student-athletes on brand management, social media best practices, time management, financial literacy, financial aid and more,” the release said.
Auburn athletics will be partnering with the university’s college of business’ faculty, who will “present curriculum tailored to student-athletes on entrepreneurship, brand management, taxes and finance.”
AU is also expanding its involvement with INFLCR, a Birmingham-based software company that specializes in brand-building for student-athletes.
“At Auburn, we are in a relentless pursuit to be the best, while delivering outstanding experiences contributing to our student-athletes’ success,” Auburn athletic director Allen Greene said. “As we embark on the new world of name, image and likeness we strive to implement bold and forward-thinking strategies to create cutting edge solutions.”
When the clock struck midnight Thursday, Auburn players were able to officially ink their sponsorships. Third-year quarterback Bo Nix was the first to do so at 12:02 a.m., followed by a host of other Tigers into the young hours of the morning.
Keep tabs on this link, as we’ll be tracking and updating which Auburn players have announced NIL deals.
• S Smoke Monday shared his personal logo Saturday.
• RB Tank Bigsby shared his personal logo Saturday.
• K Anders Carlson: LED Co. Landscape Lighting, Inc
Auburn’s four-year starting kicker landed a deal with a landscape lighting company located in Auburn and in surrounding areas like Montgomery and Columbus. According to Jake Weese of The Plainsman, LED Lighting’s co-owner is former Auburn kicker Sage Ledbetter, who was Carlson’s holder for two years.
• LB Desmond Tisdol: Old School Hats
Tisdol announced a partnership with the Atlanta-based hat brand, which has nearly 28,000 followers on Instagram.
• EDGE Romello Height: Elite Athletic Gear
• QB TJ Finley: PSD Underwear
The LSU transfer quarterback said Friday on Instagram that he’s now partnered with PSD Underwear, an men’s and women’s undergarment brand that is endorsed by several pro athletes.
• WR J.J. Evans: PSD Underwear, Elite Athletic Gear
• DB Ladarius Tennison: PSD Underwear, Elite Athletic Gear
• G Zep Jasper (basketball): PSD Underwear
• S Smoke Monday: College Football Edits
Monday announced Thursday afternoon he’s partnering with College Football Edits, an Instagram account with more than 74,000 followers. Monday is one of eight college football players to announce a partnership with the page today so far.
• LB Zakoby McClain: Jenloop.com, Fly Supply Clothing
McClain, last season’s leading tackler in the Power Five, has partnered with Jenloop to offer personalized messages, shoutouts and social media posts. He already has an account for requests on the website.
• CB Roger McCreary: Fly Supply Clothing
On Friday evening, Fly Supply Clothing, based in Miami, shared a photo of McClain and McCreary wearing its products.
The biggest NIL draw so far for Auburn players has been YOKE Gaming. Here are the AU student-athletes who have announced YOKE partnerships so far.
• LB Desmond Tisdol
• LB Zakoby McClain
• SF Devan Cambridge (basketball)
• DB Ladarius Tennison
• DB Zion Puckett
• RB Devan Barrett
• DT Marquis Burks
• CB Eric Reed Jr.
• WR J.J. Evans
• DT Dre Butler
• CB Jaylin Simpson
• LB Joko Willis
• WR Ja’Varrius Johnson
• RB Shaun Shivers
YOKE is expected to be a huge beneficiary of NIL, with the company’s co-founder tweeting that 5,000 student-athletes are expected to be attached by Thursday morning. YOKE is a simple concept that pro athletes have been taking advantage of for years: The app allows fans to play video games with their favorite players, with prices for the service depending on how long the gaming sessions are.
Shivers was the first Auburn athlete to announce a deal with YOKE, and he was quickly followed by many more. Shivers, a senior running back who was also a team captain in 2020, teased on social media that he will be selling apparel soon. He also tweeted an advertisement for the Locked On Auburn podcast.
• OL Brandon Council: Locked On Auburn podcast
• QB Bo Nix: Milo’s Tea Company
Nix was the first Auburn student-athlete — and one of the first from a program in the central time zone — to reveal his or her partnership after midnight.
• Gymnast Derrian Gobourne: Salute Leos
Gobourne, who won Auburn gymnastics’ first national championship in April 2019 on vault, announced Thursday she is partnering with the leotard company and is even designing one of her own for the brand.
• Women’s golfer Mychael O’Berry: Barstool Sports