For years, student-athletes would generate millions of dollars for their school’s athletic departments and the NCAA and would not see a penny. They were working essentially full-time in the sport that they played and went to school full-time and would only have a monthly stipend to live off of.
I know exactly what it’s like having played college baseball. You have no time to go get a job on campus and the only “free time” you have is usually spent sleeping or in a study hall somewhere. Now that the NCAA has allowed student-athletes to capitalize on their name, image, and likeness, deals are being made left and right between companies and athletes across the nation.
Prior to this, no t-shirt company or apparel shop was permitted to sell anything with a player’s name, name & number, or face on any merchandise. Now, they can. Recently, I caught up with Palmer Brown, who is the founder and owner of The NIL Shop, an online store that strikes deals with student-athletes and sells personalized t-shirts.
“It always bugged me that college athletes couldn’t make money for everything they did for their schools and fans. When that all changed, I saw it as an opportunity to do something I’d love and jumped on it,” Brown told Mountaineers Now. “I’ve been obsessed with college sports my whole life and have designed apparel since I was a teenager, so it was an easy decision to put everything together and launch this. And being able to work with the team I’ve rooted for my whole life has been icing on the cake.”
The NIL Shop has partnered with athletes from West Virginia and Colorado and are currently in negotiations with athletes from Ohio State, Cincinnati, Texas Tech, Iowa, and SMU. To make the deals as fair as possible, all revenue that is generated from the sales is split right down the middle, 50/50.
“We expect our payment structure to change as the industry changes and we grow, but the athletes have been happy, so we’re happy. Every athlete deserves a great opportunity to make money off of their NIL, but like any other high-level sport, there are certain athletes who will ultimately earn more than others.”
If you’re wanting some Dante Stills or Tony Mathis gear, the NIL Shop has you covered. Other WVU student-athletes that have gear available for preorder are James Gmiter (football), Charles Woods (football), Zach Frazier (football), Brandon Yates (football), Mike O’Laughlin (football), Lee Kpogba (football), Exree Loe (football), Hershey McLaurin (football), Wyatt Milum (football), Abbie Pierson (gymnastics), and Kianna Yancey (gymnastics). Brown says that there are 19 more athletes who have signed deals and their shirts will be launched in the coming weeks.
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How the deals come about is a bit of a mixed bag. Some athletes reach out to The NIL Shop, while the shop reaches out to others as well. Thanks to the Country Roads Trust, it has made the process very easy for the two sides to get in contact with one another.
“We’re fortunate to be signed up with the Country Roads Trust’s Icon Source portal, which makes the whole communication process with WVU athletes pretty simple. Our Colorado athletes actually reached out to us and have been spreading the word to their teammates. We’ve seen the same thing with our WVU athletes which we didn’t expect and are really grateful for.”
At this point in the game, The NIL Shop is exclusively online, but Brown says that they plan on doing some pop-up shops on certain campuses this fall.
Brown is one of at least 45 WVU graduates that stem from his family. His mother grew up in Charleston, his father in Summersville. He and his wife currently reside in New Jersey.
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