When the NCAA approved rules that allow college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness, the association likely couldn’t have foreseen some of the stakeholders that would want in on the action.
World Wrestling Entertainment this week announced a new NIL program aimed at recruiting college athletes.
Dubbed “Next In Line,” the NIL program aims to enhance the talent development process through collaborative partnerships with college athletes from diverse athletic backgrounds,” reads a WWE press release.
“The WWE NIL program has the potential to be transformational to our business,” said Paul Levesque, WWE executive vice president of 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.