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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Sports

UH athletes already taking advantage of new NIL rules


July 1 marked a historic day in college athletics as student-athletes became legally allowed to profit off their name, image and likeness with the NCAA's NIL rules going into effect. | Juana Garcia/The Cougar

July 1 marked a historic day in college athletics as student-athletes became allowed to profit off their name, image and likeness with the NCAA’s NIL rules going into effect. | Juana Garcia/The Cougar

When the NCAA’s new NIL policy — which finally allowed student-athletes to be compensated for their name, image and likeness — went into effect on July 1, it marked a milestone that some college athletes had fought for for years.

As soon as July 1 rolled around, many student-athletes across the country were quick to sign deals or announce their personal branding, including Houston’s men’s basketball guards Kyler Edwards and Marcus Sasser.

Edwards, who spent the last three years at Texas Tech and helped the Red Raiders reach the national championship game in 2019, experienced the hardships of not being allowed to profit off his image despite being a key contributor to one of the country’s top college basketball teams.

“Not being able to be paid, it’s been tough for every (college) athlete because they know what type of money they could make or what they could be doing instead of not making money (by playing college sports),” Edwards said. “For (the new NIL rules) to be in play for my last years, it’s awesome because you finally get to see what players really could make off their names just being popular.”

Edwards quickly took advantage of the NIL rules, becoming the first UH athlete to do so by signing a deal with Playmaker on July 2.

“Being a part of those great teams at Texas Tech and going to be a part of a great one at UH, I know there are going to be a lot of things that come with that,” Edwards said. “A lot of deals and a lot of marketing opportunities for me.”

Sasser followed in his teammate’s footsteps, announcing he had also signed with Playmaker as well as PSD Underwear, joining NBA stars Jimmy Butler, Ja Morant and Trae Young as brand representatives.

“It’s a win-win because I’m getting merch from them while advertising their products and helping their companies,” Sasser said. “But at the same time, they’re helping me out while I’m producing on the court. They’re helping me out with my platform by using their companies to advertise me.”

Several other UH athletes, including football seniors Chandler Smith and Marcus Jones, announced on their Twitter accounts they had personally branded merchandise in the works.

As more and more Cougar athletes begin to explore opportunities to profit from the NIL rules, the UH athletic department is helping athletes navigate this new landscape.

Partnered with the C.T. Bauer College of Business and Opendorse, UH athletics launched LIFTOFF, a program meant to put its student-athletes in the best position possible as they explore different opportunities to expand their platform.

As time progresses, UH athletics believes LIFTOFF will be the perfect facilitator in helping each student-athlete find the right opportunity to make money while playing the sport they love.

As we enter a new frontier in college athletics, our goal will be to offer the best support possible to our student-athletes,” said athletic director Chris Pezman. “Our LIFTOFF program will provide each student-athlete at the University of Houston with educational tools and key resources to help them capitalize on this new era.”

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