Florida Atlantic University (FAU) — Courtesy: Image by Jillian Cain Photography from Shutterstock
The Florida Panthers National Hockey League Team offered endorsement deals early Wednesday morning to every female college athlete attending Florida Atlantic University.
The Panthers created a “FLA Athlete” program this summer after the state of Florida passed a law that ensures college athletes are compensated and able to make a profit from their names, images, and likenesses (NIL). The NCAA has also adjusted its amateurism rules to allow athletes to accept payment for activities without losing their eligibility.
The deal will pay each athlete cash in addition to tickets to Panthers games and other merchandise in an exchange for promoting the NHL franchise at in-person events and on social media. The two athletes who generate the most buzz on social media throughout the season will also receive a four-figure bonus payment. The Panthers’ chief strategy officer, Sam Doerr, said the franchise saw the deals as an opportunity to attract a newer, younger, and diverse fan base, all while giving back to the community.
“We thought this was a terrific opportunity to attract new fans,” Doerr said. “We already spend money with social media influencers, so we’re just shifting that to the athletes.”
Miami quarterback D’Eriq King was first signed by the Panthers to a similar deal last month. King is part owner of Dreamfield, a company that helps college athletes arrange NIL deals, and was the person who coordinated the details of the offer the Panthers are making to Florida Atlantic’s female athletes.
Doerr expects at least 100 athletes to participate in the newly offered partnership. This serves as the most recent example of a developing trend in the new college athlete scene. Numerous sponsors have looked for opportunities to work with big groups of college athletes instead of focusing their marketing dollars on a smaller number of stars in high-profile sports.
Just this week, TiVo offered an endorsement deal to Georgia Tech’s entire football team and United Wholesale Mortgage offered to pay every member of Michigan State’s men’s basketball and football program $500 per month.
Doerr stated that companies and other sponsors may be leaning towards that direction for several reasons, including that “spreading a wider net with your endorsement dollars is less risky than paying a large sum to one athlete who might get injured or have a bad season.” He also said that many of the companies hopping into the NIL space are led by athletes and are interested in seeing more than the star athletes benefit from the new regulations.
“There were a ton of things in the press about how NIL would only help high-end programs and teams,” Doerr said. “We wanted to help debunk that.”
Doerr stated that the Panthers’ initial plan was to sponsor D’Eriq King and one female athlete, but plans were quickly changed to casting a wider net with the goal of supporting as many players as possible at a nearby campus. Considering how close the campus is to the franchise’s home base, he said that he hopes Panthers players will attend some of the FAU women’s sports events. There is also hope that the two groups will eventually work together on local and community service projects as well.
“We wanted to shine a spotlight on the great work that female athletes and the programs in the area are doing,” he said. “It’s important from the top down to support women and women’s athletics. We thought this was a no-brainer to go along D’Eriq.”
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Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.