After the National Collegiate Athletic Association adopted a policy allowing student-athletes to benefit from their branding, a number of Harvard athletes took advantage of the new policy by entering into sponsorship and sponsorship agreements with local brands. and national.
Following the United States Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling this summer that the NCAA cannot restrict educational benefits for college student athletes, the NCAA Division I board of directors approved a new policy that went into effect July 1 allowing individuals to take advantage of their name, image, and likeness, otherwise known as NIL Agreements.
Harvard football player Alex J. Washington ’23 said he has made NIL deals with several groups including Playa Bowls, Harvard Square company, Positivity Alkaline Water and a designs-focused social media page. graphics for college football.
Washington is one of Harvard’s 12 “Playa athletes”, according to Hung J. Lam, managing partner of Playa Bowls. Lam said in an interview that he believed the company’s decision to sponsor student-athletes at Harvard and other schools in the greater Boston area, including Northeastern and Boston College, was consistent with the goals. of the company.
“Our focus with the partnership is twofold,” Lam said. “One is to educate and promote the name ‘Playa Bowls’ to the Harvard community, and second, to promote healthy eating as well.”
Student-athletes who sign with Playa Bowls receive free merchandise as well as food each month in return for Lam’s promotion of the restaurant on social media. He added that Playa Bowls is considering expanding the program to include more student-athletes and other campus brand ambassadors.
“It’s nice to have people who are really involved in the school, whether it’s from a sporting point of view or from different clubs,” Lam said. “We’re excited to have them just to be a part of it and to help us market and promote them, and we’re seeing a good feedback on them.”
However, the financial benefits of some NIL transactions are not always so tangible. Harvard squash player Sam B. Scherl ’21 -’22 has said he can receive free rackets and other merchandise under an annual contract with Dunlop Sports. The deal didn’t deliver much more than it already received from Harvard, Scherl noted.
“There’s not really that much of a difference, especially outside of places like Harvard where they pay for all your gear,” Scherl said. “I researched racquet sponsorship a bit more just because I thought it would be fun to explore a NIL opportunity, and this one came to my mind and I had some connection to the brand of racket to which I reached out. “
Washington said it has sought sponsorships with brands it believes reflect its values.
“I did it by just picking brands that showed who I was, that matched what I was telling myself, so honestly, I was just reaching out to different companies on Instagram, through Twitter, on all social media, and then I was finding out what their brand is and seeing if my beliefs match theirs and trying to match from there, ”Washington said.
According to Washington, other members of the football team were able to make deals with Liquid IV, BodyArmor and other brands.
Associate Director of Athletics for Compliance, Christian Bray, declined to comment on the number of student athletes who are actively participating in NIL agreements, but said the department supports students’ efforts to qualify for sponsorship.
Scherl said he was excited to be among the first generation of student athletes to explore sponsorship opportunities under the new NCAA policy.
“This generation of varsity athletes will be the first to explore what this might look like,” Scherl said. “It’s just exciting to be on the frontier of that and to understand how the system works and how student athletes can stand out.”