Individual endorsement agreements began emerging immediately once college student-athletes were finally permitted to leverage their name, image and likeness for profit last week, but none match the deal cooked up by the owner of a Florida-based chain of mixed martial arts studios.
Dan Lambert announced Tuesday that he has offered each University of Miami scholarship football player a monthly payment of $500 in exchange for promoting his gyms on social media. At a potential annual outlay of $540,000, Lambert says it is the largest marketing effort his business has ever launched.
"I want to help the kids. I want to reward them for what they do, and I want a better product on the field, too," said Lambert, a longtime Hurricanes fan, as reported by ESPN. "I want to improve the reputation of the school and the team I love so much. I think it's a cool opportunity to get involved and make a difference."
ESPN reports that Lambert has also started a corporation, called Bring Back The U, that will attempt to rally support from other local businesses to hire Miami players as spokesmen. He says he also plans to host fundraising events and then donate the proceeds to any local business that agrees to use the donation to pay spokesman fees to Miami players.
Lambert said he has already been contacted by interested local businesses, as well as had multiple conversations with the school's compliance department to tell them about his plans. He also has hired an attorney to make sure what he was doing didn't violate new state laws. "There are improper ways of fans supporting their players, and now there is a legal way to do it," Lambert said. "And if there is a legal way, and you can dot the I's and cross the T's, I'm going to do it."
The attorney in question, Darren Heitner, helped craft Florida's NIL law, which took effect July 1. He told ESPN that Lambert's fanhood and the previous donations that he has made to the athletic department do not prevent him from creating a company that facilitates endorsement deals for Hurricanes players. Heitner said Florida's law only prohibits an entity that has directly supported the university or the athletic department from paying or facilitating these deals. Lambert's new corporation has no relationship with the university.
"There's no prohibition on an entity who may have a booster as a member," Heitner said. "The only restriction is if the entity itself supports the institution or the athletic department."