STORRS, Conn. (WTNH) — One of the biggest names in the University of Connecticut (UConn) women’s basketball program is getting a big sponsorship. We spoke with other student-athletes on campus about the change in rules that allows them to be compensated.
Paige Bueckers is the first-ever college athlete to be signed by Gatorade. The Wall Street Journal is reporting she could be making an estimated $1-million a year in endorsements between Gatorade and another deal with Stock X.
The UConn athletes we spoke to Monday night were very excited for Bueckers and for the door, her deal opens for them and future athletes.
Alexis Hastings, a freshman softball player, said, “I think it is really motivating for our hard work to pay off a little bit.”
Bueckers’ freshman teammate Azzi Fudd, too, signed with an energy drink company called Biosteel for equity in the company. Athletes say, after all, sports is a job on top of studying.
“It’s a little bit crazy to me,” Kate Daley, a senior cross country athlete said.
She explained just how demanding college athletics can be: “We will have two-a-days, two practices a day. We will wake up early, go to practice, find time to eat, and then go to class, eat again, work out again, go to class, do homework, go to bed, it’s a long day every day.”
Getting paid to promote products is new this year – as of July 1 – under the new Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rules and laws. The university has partnered with a firm to help students navigate the endorsement process.
Hastings said, “I think because it’s new, not a lot of people or athletes know about it just yet. But we have the resources to get the information that we need…You can reach out and they can also reach out to you, and everything is monitored just to make sure everything is done the correct way.”
Now many college athletes are exploring the possibilities.
Students say there are downsides, a big one: the potential for friction between teammates when one individual is recognized over another.
Allison Martin, a member of the UConn rowing team, said, “For other teams, I know they could be pretty jealous, but that is life. Some people have different opportunities than others, and we just have to work harder or work in different ways to get success, or for whatever we are looking for in life.”
There may be other contracts in the works that may be coming out. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this as this new program continues to play out across America.