NIL compensation for college athletes has been a hot topic this year. It was just a few months ago when WWE announced its first ever NIL (name, image, likeness) deal for Olympic gold medalist and NCAA wrestling champion Gable Steveson.
Earlier today, WWE announced the company has launched a full-fledged NIL program to prepare college athletes to become future WWE
wrestlers superstars. Here is their press release on the news:
WWE today announced the launch of a groundbreaking NIL (Name, Image & Likeness) program that will provide a clear pathway from collegiate athletics to WWE.
Following a historic new policy by the NCAA effective July 1, 2021, which ushered in the NIL era allowing college athletes the ability to monetize their name, image and likeness, WWE has constructed a comprehensive program to recruit and develop potential future Superstars. Dubbed “Next In Line,” the NIL program aims to enhance the talent development process through collaborative partnerships with college athletes from diverse athletic backgrounds.
“The WWE NIL program has the potential to be transformational to our business,” said Paul Levesque, WWE Executive Vice President, Global Talent Strategy and Development. “By creating partnerships with elite athletes at all levels across a wide variety of college sports, we will dramatically expand our pool of talent and create a system that readies NCAA competitors for WWE once their collegiate careers come to a close.”
All athlete partnerships will feature access to the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., in addition to resources across the organization including brand building, media training, communications, live event promotion, creative writing and community relations. Upon completion of the NIL program, select athletes may earn an exclusive opportunity to be offered a WWE contract.
In September, WWE announced its first NIL deal with heavyweight freestyle wrestler Gable Steveson, who captured a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The agreement allowed Steveson to return to the University of Minnesota for his senior season where he is defending his NCAA National Championship while beginning his Superstar training with WWE.
WWE will unveil the first class of NIL partnerships in the coming weeks.
The NIL program sounds like it fits right in with WWE’s rumored preference for recruiting athletes with the right look into the WWE system and teaching them the WWE style of wrestling.
What do you think of WWE’s “Next In Line” program for college athletes, Cagesiders?