Illinois Basketball: NFTs are the next step in Illini NIL growth

by Zain Bando

Illinois basketball is taking the next step in NIL endorsements with the NextName NFT partnership.

The Illini are off to a fast start at 6-2, as it remained at No. 16 in the fourth week of the AP Top 25. Coupled with the on-court success also comes future marketing opportunities for the program.

Illinois’ athletic department has been at forefront of Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) since it was signed into law in July 2021. In a November 20 release, NextName announced that it will sell Illini-branded NFTs for the team, including popular stars like Terrance Shannon Jr., Skyy Clark, Coleman Hawkins, Luke Goode, and Jayden Epps, to name a few.

“The players have all signed an NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) agreement with NextName to offer fans the opportunity to show support through the sale of the athletes’ digital collectibles,” the statement read. “The tokens are unique media files with images, music, and the school logo. The majority of proceeds from NextName token sales are given directly to the student-athlete or, in the case of a team token, are split evenly among team members. The university also receives a portion of the proceeds.”

This is a big move for the Illinois basketball program and the players.

It’s easy for fans to purchase tokens, as they can buy the NFTs individually or buy a team-wide package.

Prices range from $25-$999, depending on what the consumer is looking for (Individual, Classic, Gold, Platinum). The tokens include player info, their favorite music, pictures, and more. All proceeds go toward the student-athlete, or if someone buys a team token, the funds are split in an equal distribution between the players.

This is a big step for the basketball program’s long-term success, as the players can fully embrace the benefits of the brand deals and endorsements coming their way.

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