On Thursday, WWE revealed plans for its “Next In Line” program that follows the NCAA’s policy allowing collegiate athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness.
The program is designed for WWE to recruit and develop potential talent and allowed the promotion to sign Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson, who is completing his final year of university this year.
Paul Levesque, WWE’s EVP of Global Talent Strategy & Development, elaborated on the company’s program while speaking to Fast Company:
We immediately saw it as an amazing recruiting tool for us because it allows us to show athletes a path to WWE, and engage with them in a way where they can learn more about it, we can learn more about them, all while working together, and finding out if it’s a good fit before they’re even finished college, and before they need to make any decisions about what they’re going to do in that next stage of their life.
Levesque pointed to the early results of the NIL policy and mentioned the recruitment of Isaac Odugbesan, who is a shot putter at the University of Alabama, who was part of a tryout earlier this year:
When we were done with the tryout, I was like, ‘Great let’s bring this kid in now,’ but it turned out he was still in school. That happened right around NIL, so we put a deal together, and he’ll be way ahead of the curve because he’ll be working on a lot of stuff while he’s in school.
Levesque also mentioned the level of deals the company will be offering with a range that would vary among the achievement levels of different athletes:
The deals might range from the lower end, which would still help them make ends meet while at school. Of course, if you’re bringing an Olympic gold medal to the table, it’s a different conversation.