[Vandal] Jumping At The Chance

robiegruss at aol.com robiegruss at aol.com
Thu Nov 4 08:42:05 PDT 2021

{Compiler's Note: maybe it's time to consider scholarship paybacks}
>From The Lewiston TribuneLewiston, IdahoThursday, November 4, 2021
Jumping At The Chance
Idaho linebacker Tre Walker is dipping his toes into the merchandising apparel market with a line of hoodies, sweatshirts and other items that went on the market in October

By Stephan Wiebe
MOSCOW — Walking through the Kibbie Dome or other places where Vandals congregate, you might spot someone wearing a white hoodie or shirt with a black-and-gold stylized “TW” on the front, or maybe one with an eight-ball logo depicting Idaho linebacker Tre Walker’s No. 8 jersey as the “eight.”
For the first time in NCAA history, college athletes across the country are allowed to get paid for their name, image and likeness.
Tre Walker became the first Idaho football player to take advantage of the opportunity when he dropped an apparel line Oct. 7 selling hoodies, sweatshirts, T-shirts and phone cases with his two personalized logos. The items can be found at fanarch.com.
“I’ve been getting tagged in a lot of stuff on social media, Twitter, people have been reaching out from all over, sending me pictures with the gear on,” Walker said. “It’s been cool to see all the fans and the support from it for sure.”
The NCAA, which generated a reported $18.9 billion among all its athletic departments in 2019, has hesitated to allow its student-athletes to be paid outside of the scholarships they receive.
While federal and state laws and further NCAA regulation are still in the works, as of July 1 student-athletes finally were provided protections and opportunities to make money by selling their name, image and likeness.
Walker said it’s something that’s been a long time coming.
“It’s always been something I feel like athletes should have had from the beginning of time, ’cause we produce so much for the school,” said Walker, a Football Championship Subdivision All-American and Big Sky preseason defensive MVP.
“It’s (like) a professional sport — it’s a bunch of grown men out here playing the game of football and (they) never got the opportunity to get paid off their name, image and likeness.”
On the field, Walker is one of the hardest hitters in the Big Sky. The junior is tied for third in the conference in tackles this season with 77 in eight games.
He said he was approached by Fan Arch, a New York-based company, about doing the personalized merchandise. The company has worked with dozens of college and pro athletes, including former Washington State linebacker Frankie Luvu of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
Walker helped pick the emblems used on his apparel.
“I chose out the graphic designs, stuff like that, (and) they helped me out too and we just came to a conclusion, put our minds together,” Walker said of the process. “They did a great job, came up with a nice emblem for me and put it out there.”
While it’s a big one, merch isn’t the only thing athletes are doing. Some are getting sponsorship deals, others are compensated for doing social media posts and some help out in commercials for local companies.
But several areas still are off limits. The biggest two are no recruiting incentives and no “pay-to-play.”
For example, “I can’t say, ‘Hey, if you score 40 points tonight in this basketball game, you’re going to get $10K,’ or whatever,” said George Casper, compliance coordinator for University of Idaho athletics.
Another NCAA guardrail is no free money for doing nothing — the athletes have to do something to earn it.
Casper said it’s been hectic around the nation as schools rush to provide guidelines in a world where the NCAA parameters are brief and most states don’t have NIL laws in place yet.
The job of people like Casper is to educate the players on what they can do and make sure nobody’s breaking the rules.
He said Idaho has added a couple guidelines in addition to the NCAA’s three major guardrails. One is asking athletes to report their NIL activities to the university to help make sure they follow the rules and to gather data. Another is to make sure they use Vandal facilities and logos the right way.
One worry nationally was that athletes who strike major deals could lose track of obligations elsewhere, like on the field or in the classroom, but that myth largely has been debunked, Casper said.
“I think it’ll be interesting to see the actual impact of it,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing and I think it’s kind of been a long time coming, in my opinion.
“I’m happy the student-athletes are able to pursue those avenues now where they weren’t able to in the past.”

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