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BYU Football Strikes NIL Deal to Pay Tuition for Walk-On Players

While some felt the NCAA's rule of allowing athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness (NIL) would create chaos, it is proving to be a positive change for athletes at Brigham Young University.

On Thursday, Built Brands—a company that produces protein, protein bars and energy products—announced a multi-year NIL agreement that will include compensation to all 123 members of the Cougars' football team as well as provide full tuition for walk-on players.

The agreement, according to the program, calls for players to wear Built branding on their practice helmets and participate in experiential events for Built. Walk-on players will provide additional "social media and experience promotions" for Built, according to a statement.

Since the beginning of NIL discussions, BYU head coach Kalani Sitake said his biggest hope was that it would serve as a path forward to benefit players, especially the team's walk-ons.

"I love these boys, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be partnering with a company that is equally committed to assisting BYU football in building a culture of love and learning while enhancing the experience for all players.

“When [Build Brands founder] Nick Greer called to tell me that Built was committed to entering into NIL deals which would pay our walk-ons enough money to cover their tuition for the full academic year, I could not hold back my emotions."

On July 1 thousands of athletes began profiting from NIL though product endorsements, business ventures, public appearances and their social media followings. One of the first NIL deals involved twin sisters, Hanna and Haley Cavinder, of the Fresno State women's basketball team, signing two endorsement deals that combined to pay them five figures.

BYU's groundbreaking, full-team NIL deal joins two other college football agreements made this week: Dr. Pepper became the first household brand to partner with a high-profile college football player in Clemson quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei, and Miami quarterback D'Eriq King became the first college athlete to sign an NIL deal with a pro sports team—the NHL's Florida Panthers. 

BYU will play its first game of the 2021 season against Arizona on Sept. 4. 

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