So far, the early returns from college sports’ NIL gold rush have been good for UCF Knights athletes, but perhaps no single athlete has done as well as the entire UCF Women’s Basketball team.
The Tampa Bay Times was first to report UCF’s women’s hoops players had entered into a sponsorship deal with the moving company College Hunks Hauling Junk. The deal was first announced by the company’s CEO:
Congrats to UCF Women’s Basketball Team on your historic NIL deal with @CollegeHunks!! We are just getting started! #buildingleaders pic.twitter.com/hqVNkhYMcl— Omar Soliman (@OmarSolimanCEO) July 6, 2021
According to Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel, who spoke with senior Masseny Kaba:
“[T]he initial deal would pay each player $500 to promote the College Hunks brand on their social media, and the contract also leaves room for commissions to be made as the business picks up clients directly related to the endorsement of the UCF players. The deal is a one-year contract renewable each year.”
This is in addition to Becca Ripley, a member of the team, who has also reportedly signed on with Barstool, Ethika (an apparel company) and Revive Superfoods.
While Dillon Gabriel’s individual brand has gotten quite a bit of attention, the fact that women’s sports — and women’s basketball in particular — is receiving this much commercial attention should not be lost on anyone.
UCF has prided itself on being a women’s sports power in The American. This year was a banner year for women’s sports at UCF, and the school’s support of women’s sports has been historically significant.
The fact that a major company has also recognized the marketability of a UCF women’s program is a major step in the right direction for all sports, not just at UCF but everywhere.
As Kaba told Hays:
“We also don’t mind being a voice for other women’s athletes and we’ll help them out however we might be able to. It’s all just a process, and we all just have to figure it out together.”