FedEx Makes $25M NIL Commitment to University of Memphis Athletics

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FedEx Corp. announced Friday an NIL program benefiting University of Memphis student-athletes that will invest $5M per year for the next five years in University of Memphis student-athletes who will be promoting FedEx initiatives.

As reported by CBS Sports, the deal is believed to be the biggest corporate NIL partnership of its type in college athletics. 

According to the company's website, the program will be initially centered around football, men’s and women’s basketball, and additional women’s sports.

FedEx, whose world headquarters is located in Memphis, is introducing the NIL model at its hometown university to further bolster its longstanding relationship with the University of Memphis athletic department, the announcement stated. With support from national industry experts Altius Sports Partners, this NIL activity is part of a robust sports sponsorship portfolio that also includes supporting FedExForum, the FedEx/St. Jude Championships, the Southern Heritage Classic, and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, all in Memphis.

“We evaluated the evolving NIL landscape, exploring how we can best deliver positive impact to student-athletes and connect them to meaningful opportunities for both themselves and the community and made the decision to reallocate marketing funds to an NIL platform,” said Brian Philips, EVP & CMO at FedEx. “This gives us an opportunity to invest in bright, young athletes in our great hometown of Memphis, strengthening our connection to the next generation of leaders.”

FedEx nosted its first in-person NIL initiative at the University of Memphis’ Spring Football Game on Saturday, enhancing the event with a tailgate experience. FedEx will have many initiatives throughout the year that will utilize student-athletes, capitalizing on their name, image, and likeness through social media programs, in-person events, and FedEx Cares initiatives, the company said.

“We are truly appreciative of the vision and support of FedEx’s leadership in this area,” said Laird Veatch, University of Memphis vice president and director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “NIL opportunities have become a crucial facet of the student-athlete dynamic, and we believe major corporate support of NIL will need to be a key part of the future landscape of college athletics. We are confident this groundbreaking commitment by one of the world’s most well-known and successful companies will inspire others in Tiger Nation to realize the power of investing in student-athletes and join the mission with further support.”

According to Shehan Jeyarajah of CBS Sports, "FedEx is the largest employer in the state of Tennessee and an institution in the city of Memphis. Founder Fred Smith has been a longtime benefactor of the program, including a $50 million donation to renovate Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. Memphis basketball plays at the FedEx Forum, the same arena as the Memphis Grizzlies." 

"College athletes have built partnerships with business before, but few to this level," Jeyarajah wrote. "FedEx is a top-50 corporation in the United States, towering above most other corporate contributors funding college athletics. Nike is intertwined with Oregon's athletic department and Under Armour with Maryland, but neither has so openly used the power of its marketing arm to fund NIL opportunities for athletes."

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