New NCAA Compensation Rules Come Too Late for Holden

Brett Friedlander

Deonte Holden wasn't just a football player during his six years at NC State. He was also a successful business owner.

The 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end, who earned three degrees from State, designs his own line of luxury streetwear for men and women.

But while his collection has done well since it was introduced during Holden's sophomore season of 2016, there's no telling how much more profitable it might have been had NCAA rules allowed him to personally market it.

Those rules will soon be changing after the NCAA's Board of Governors recommended legislation on Tuesday that would allow athletes to accept compensation for their name, image and likeness.

Although the move comes too late to help Holden, the former Wolfpack player said he's happy that young entrepreneurs in the future won't have to deal with the same obstacles he did during his college career.

"I think a lot of student-athletes can benefit from this," Holden said in a Zoom interview with SI All Wolfpack. "But they also need to keep in mind that regardless of this new rule, you have to handle your business as an athlete, too. Because yes, you can get paid for your likeness and your name, but you also have to understand that businesses are not going to want to pay you if you're not doing the things you need to do on the field to create a name for yourself. 

"These businesses are going to give their money to athletes that have a name that brings more recognition to their brand."

Holden's own football career was twice interrupted by injuries that led to him being granted a medical waiver for a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. His playing time was also limited early in his career by playing as a backup to two future NFL draft picks—including No. 5 overall selection Bradley Chubb.

He was second on the team with 9.5 tackles for loss in 2018 and had 1.5 sacks last season while playing mostly in third down pass-rushing packages.

Because of his relatively low profile as a player, he's not sure how much more money he might have made had be been allowed to use his status with the Wolfpack to promote his business.

But he would have liked to have the chance to find out.

"Just me being able to promote it, I probably could have made a little bit more money," he said. "Like I said, it all trickles down to football.

"Businesses have to want to give you money based on what you're doing on the field, but also people will want to pay for your stuff because of who you are and the impact you have as a football player. People want to be around that and want to be a part of that, so it is what it is. 

"Do I think it would have been a significant amount of revenue for me? I don't know. But it probably would have been a little bit more, knowing I could have used my face to promote my brand."

Holden is currently seeking a free agent deal with an NFL team in hopes of continuing his athletic career.

If it doesn't happen, he's well equipped to handle life after football.

In addition to his undergraduate degree in business marketing and master's degrees in business management and global luxury textile management, Holden also spent a semester developing his line of ready-to-wear garments for both men and women while studying abroad in Paris.

His clothing creations are part of the GAVEEN brand, a company started by another former athlete, that is still in the process of growing.

"Right now we have the standard sweatshirts, t-shirts, hoodies, hats," Holden said. "We definitely want to venture into cosmetics, leather hand goods, shoes, jewelry, haute couture and things like that."

Click here for the GAVEEN website.

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