WWE has launched its NIL (Name, Image & Likeness) program designed to recruit college athletes and create an entry for aspiring performers.
The company announced its program, “Next In Line” which follows the NCAA adding a policy this past July that allows collegiate athletes to seek monetary compensation for their name, image, and likeness.
It was this policy that opened the door for WWE to sign Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson, who is completing his final year at the University of Minnesota and was drafted to the Raw brand in October.
Below is the press release from the company:
WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced the launch of a groundbreaking NIL (Name, Image & Likeness) program that will provide a clear pathway from collegiate athletics to WWE.
Following a historic new policy by the NCAA effective July 1, 2021, which ushered in the NIL era allowing college athletes the ability to monetize their name, image and likeness, WWE has constructed a comprehensive program to recruit and develop potential future Superstars. Dubbed “Next In Line™,” the NIL program aims to enhance the talent development process through collaborative partnerships with college athletes from diverse athletic backgrounds.
“The WWE NIL program has the potential to be transformational to our business,” said Paul Levesque, WWE Executive Vice President, 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.