UCLA’s Reilyn Turner and the New World of NIL Deals – Orange County Register
It’s a new, fairer era in college sports. When the Supreme Court issued a 9-0 shutout against the NCAA and its business model last June, essentially saying the organization’s amateurish model flagrantly violated antitrust regulations, it opened up college athletes to a world where they could be compensated legally from outside sources. for what is essentially a full-time job at a multi-million dollar company.
Many athletes have taken advantage of this, and let’s not forget that the California legislature, and in particular State Senator Nancy Skinner, started the trend of name/image/likeness compensation as early as the summer of 2019. Within months, a young, talented football star from UCLA took it to another level.
Reilyn Turner will be a junior for UCLA’s women’s team this fall. She was the 2020 Pac-12 Rookie of the Year with 11 goals and scored 10 (including a hat trick) as a sophomore, earning second-team All-Pacific-Region and All-Pac- 12. And in mid-December, a month after the Bruins’ season ended, she became the first college athlete to sign a name/image/likeness deal with Nike.
It’s still an adjustment period, I guess, and the public may not yet be used to the idea that college athletes can hire agents and land potential six-figure deals as endorsers or influencers.
Turner and his representative, Spencer Wadsworth of the Wasserman Agency, declined to disclose the size of his multi-year contract with Nike. But it’s obvious that a company that’s been at the forefront of corporate relationships with professional athletes saw something special in Turner, a former Laguna Beach High star who was a member of the U.S. national teams. U-17 and U-19.
“The morning after I signed with Wasserman, Spencer came to see my mom (Felicia Madrigal) and I said Nike was interested, and I was like, ‘This is a dream come true,'” Turner said. “At first I tried not to be hopeful, but over time and as things started to progress, I was more inclined to believe it was more of a reality.”
Performance is a big part of its appeal, as Wadsworth pointed out in our chat. But Turner is determined to use the relationship with Nike to do things for young people in her community, whose specifics are still evolving.
“I have tried to use the small but growing platform I have to hopefully inspire the younger generation of athletes to pursue their dreams,” she said. “For me, being an African-American and Mexican-American woman, I’m really excited to do my best to be a role model for those girls — and even those boys — who may not see themselves continuing their sport long. term term I hope I can be someone who inspires young athletes to pursue their dreams and even set new goals, if possible.
Part of the deal here, as outlined in Nike’s press release, is that the athlete and the company will work with community partners in Los Angeles. The exact nature is yet to be determined, but Turner said she would work with nonprofits, host camps and clinics, participate in fundraisers or make other appearances.
The NIL environment itself continues to evolve. After the rules changed last summer and athletes began signing contracts and developing relationships with companies and corporations, Turner and her mother decided to set up a meeting with the Wasserman agency just to see what was going on.
It was a chance to be seized.
“The (large) percentages of NIL transactions go to men, and obviously we want that to change,” Wadsworth said. “Reilyn is considered one for the future. First and foremost, she performed, she did well in college, she was the top rookie last year, and she was on the radar. And then there was an opportunity to do something cool like that.
There are many possibilities. Wasserman also represents Connecticut basketball star Paige Bueckers, who became the first college athlete to sign with Gatorade and has also struck a deal with Stock-X, a global e-commerce platform for sneakers, toys, electronics and clothing. Mercedes Benz hired college athletes for promotional events. Degree deodorant enlisted a number of athletes to tell their stories of overcoming adversity. Dr Pepper and Kool-Aid have signed athletes, as has WWE – including deals with Fresno State basketball twins Hanna and Haley Cavinder.
And incoming USC quarterback Caleb Williams has struck deals with, among others, Beats by Dre, Fanatics and, most recently, a real estate private equity fund in Beverly Hills.
Pandora’s box is therefore wide open and its effect on recruitment in various sports is already being debated. But it’s not just the quarterbacks who are cashing in. And in an environment where athletic directors and head coaches still have multimillion-dollar contracts and the ability to jump ship for better deals, the scales are now a little more balanced than before. appealed to athletes of all sports.
Turner’s mother, who was an UNLV football player in the first two seasons of the Rebels program, 1998 and 1999, seemed only a little envious.
“You know what? Even if it was (available), I doubt I would land a deal like Nike,” Madrigal said with a laugh.
But, she added, that money goes into the pockets of those who can use it.
“It’s nice to think that she can come out of college with a well-padded savings (account) or with money to invest,” she said. “If you’re a student-athlete lucky enough to have a full scholarship, that’s one thing. But…many athletes end up being responsible for some of their own schooling.
“So I just think that kind of stuff opens the door wide in terms of opportunity, and with everything so new, you sort of end up with an open door to creativity, which you could possibly set up (to) market yourself as an athlete, especially with these kids and their social media followers.
The best part might be that it’s out in the open. More cash in an envelope carried by a runner for an agent or representative of a shoe company, or briefcase an assistant coach or a air cargo package that opens at an inopportune time. (Although there’s one thing you can say about the good old days of recruiting: the stories were legendary.)
Dealing with a legitimate agency means that all processes are observed to a T.
“The last thing you want to be is the agency doing things wrong,” Wadsworth said. “I mean, Casey Wasserman just couldn’t stand it.”
UCLA athletes have access to the “Westwood Ascent” program, which explains what is allowed (and not allowed), offers workshops on best practices, offers guidelines for potential agents, attorneys or consultants, and provides the NIL COMPASS app to athletes as a resource and a clearing house to notify the athletic department of impending trades. (There may be instances where an athlete’s agreement may conflict with the university’s own contract, but not in this case. UCLA already wears Nike-branded gear.)
But deals come with pressure because, as Wadsworth pointed out, it’s ultimately performance-based. That’s fine with Turner.
“I signed a long-term contract with Nike, so after my college years are over, I will join the NWSL and continue my football career,” she said. “My goal is to make the full National Women’s Team one day. I haven’t really given it much thought, but I’m not rushing anything. Right now, I’m focused on improving myself, on my school, on giving back.
“I didn’t really think very long term, just (pretty much) my goals that I already had in terms of football. I will continue to try to improve myself every day.
If she’s good enough, the next contract should be bigger.
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