FAMU, SWAC leaders in new NIL world

FAMU Athletics announced a partnership with NIL technology platform INFLCR on June 30th. Photo courtesy of FAMU Athletics

When the Name, Image and Likeness law was enacted in Florida on July 1, effectively granting college athletes the ability to monetize their personal brands through sponsorships, autographs, appearances and more, HBCU athletes were quick to capitalize. Many announced their first deals just after midnight on July 1.

Two months into the uncharted territories of student-athlete brand deals, FAMU’s new league, the Southwestern Athletic Conference, is leading the way for HBCU athletic conferences in NIL revenue earned.

According to OpenDorse, a sports technology company specializing in Name, Image and Likeness monetization, the SWAC ranked No. 11 out of all collegiate conferences, outpacing major FBS leagues such as the Sun Belt Conference.

The SWAC’s high ranking is due in part to a few major deals, such as Jackson State’s Shadeur Sanders inking a deal to become Beats by Dre’s first ever collegiate ambassador, as well as multiple student-athletes’ landing deals with local and Black-owned businesses, such as FAMU football defensive back Eric Smith, a brand ambassador for both Black and FAMU alumni-owned businesses.

“We bonded immediately because FAMU is one big family,” Smith told The Tampa Bay Times.

FAMU athletics made quick strides to position Smith and other student athletes for success, becoming the first SWAC school to announce a partnership with the Name, Image and Likeness technology platform INFLCR on June 30, hours before the law took effect.

“We are excited to join the INFCLR family. FAMU will embrace Name, Image, and Likeness by preparing our student-athletes with comprehensive guidance, education, and leveraging INFCLR’s technology to expand their personal brands,” said FAMU Athletics Director Kortne Gosha in a FAMU Athletics news release.

FAMU’s partnership with INFLCR will include leveraging INFLCR’s content opportunities, mobile app, brand strategy education and compliance tools, and social media measurement tools. Student-athletes, coaches, staff, and other ambassadors will also receive access to thousands of graphics produced by FAMU athletics to share on social media channels.

The partnership and subsequent programming fall under FAMU athletics’ “STRIKE” strategic plan announced in December 2020.

With FAMU athletics making trailblazing strides early in the new era of college sports created by the Name, Image and Likeness law, they have not only strategically positioned themselves for success, but created new opportunities for success for student-athletes as well.

“I feel like the NIL law is a great way for college athletes to begin to monetize their careers,” said Devon Smith, captain of the FAMU wrestling team. “Especially considering most college athletes don’t go pro, it’s a great opportunity to get paid to do what you love.”