Athletic directors trying to navigate college endorsement deals


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The name, image and likeness availabilities have taken off for college athletes.

Whether it’s KU’s Mitch Lightfoot signing with 1-800-Got Junk or multiple Mizzou football players signing with Barstool Athletics and even a K-State walk-on using his TikTok following that could net plenty of money.

“This is sort of the new paradigm of athlete well fare and development,” Dr. Brandon Martin, Kansas City athletics director said. “But we have more questions than answers.”

And that’s where the stage is for most athletic directors. They want to help.

“I mean you’ve got talented athletes that are musicians and clothes designers and social media influencers,” K-State AD Gene Taylor said. “We’re really trying to help our athletes; we’re not trying to be a roadblock.”

But understand things can go awry. A college football quarterback like former Blue Valley North Mustang and current Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz with his own trademarked logo may be ahead of an athlete in a less popular sport.

“I imagine there’s going to be a gap, between the student athlete who has maybe six offering vs. a student athlete who has maybe one,” Dr. Martin said.

UMKC has signed with influencer which will help to educate and provide template for athletes and the administration. It all helps to avoiding getting in trouble for both school and players.

“How do we ensure the focus of the student-athlete on academics and making sure that they’re positioned well to compete in their respective sport vs. being an entrepreneur,” Dr. Martin said. “There’s going to be mistakes, but if we have a framework, we hyper communicate within this effort, I think over time, I think we’ll be successful.”

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