HARTFORD, Conn. (WTAJ) — From football to track & field, college athletes from around the world are now getting a chance at the big time thanks to the new NCAA rules saying athletes can benefit/profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL).
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World Wrestling Entertainment has jumped at the chance to help create future superstars and created their own NIL program — Next In Line — to allow collegiate athletes to benefit from the company while continuing their college careers. The first NIL athlete, Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson, signed with the company but will be allowed to finish his senior year while defending his NCAA title.
The following 15 athletes join Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson in WWE’s first-of-its-kind NIL program:
- Carlos Aviles, of Ventura, Calif., a 6-foot-6, 305-pound track & field athlete from Ohio State University
- Haley Cavinder, of Gilbert, Ariz., a 5-foot-6 basketball player from Fresno State University
- Hanna Cavinder, of Gilbert, Ariz., a 5-foot-6 basketball player from Fresno State University
- A.J. Ferrari of Dallas, Texas, a 6-foot, 200-pound wrestler from Oklahoma State University
- Lexi Gordon of Fort Worth, Texas, a 6-foot basketball player from Duke University
- Aleeya Hutchins of Toronto, Canada, a 5-foot-5 track & field athlete from Wake Forest University
- John Krahn of Riverside, Calif., a 7-foot, 400-pound football player from Portland State University
- Glen Logan of Kenner, La., a 6-foot-5, 305-pound football player from LSU
- Isaac Odugbesan of Lagos, Nigeria, a 6-foot-4, 275-pound football player from the University of Alabama
- Mason Parris of Lawrenceburg, Ind., a 6-foot-2, 275-pound wrestler from the University of Michigan
- Masai Russel of Potomac, Md., a 5-foot-5 track & field athlete from the University of Kentucky
- Jon Seaton of Hillsborough, N.J., a 6-foot-1, 285-pound football player from Elon University
- Joe Spivak of Lombard, Ill., a 6-foot, 300-pound football player from Northwestern University
- Dalton Wagner of Spring Grove, Ill., a 6-foot-9, 330-pound football player from the University of Arkansas
- Riley White of Hoover, Ala., a 5-foot-6 track & field athlete from the University of Alabama
Steveson, and the rest of the NIL athletes, will be given unprecedented access to WWE training and their performance center in Orlando Florida as well as access to various resources across the country to help teach them the ways of the WWE Superstar including how to wrestle, tell a story, cut promos, and even branding/marketing themselves and making the most of social media.
The WWE announced the new, innovated NIL program last week after the NCAA’s historic new policy took effect on July 1, allowing college athletes the ability to monetize their name, image and likeness.
Upon completion of the NIL program, WWE says that select athletes may earn an exclusive opportunity to be offered an official WWE contract.