We’re approaching the day when a high school athlete could sign a NIL deal with a sports shoe powerhouse.
Shams Charania, NBA insider with The Athletic and Stadium, broke news via Twitter Yesterday, Puma is reportedly set to sign a sponsorship deal with Mikey Williams, a high school basketball star with a massive social media presence. Charania said Williams will sign a deal under the new name, image and likeness rules approved by the NCAA in July.
In an email with FN, Puma said it would not confirm or deny the report at this time.
News of this potential deal between the sportswear giant and Williams has industry insiders eager to see what it could lead to.
“An agreement between Puma and Mikey Williams will be revolutionary and will completely change the relationship between brands, athletes and fans,” said Marc Beckman, founder and CEO of advertising agency DMA United. “Specifically, it will create a market filled with long-term business flows, especially for elite athletes, starting with teens and forecasting in pro-level sports. Consider a scenario where Puma and Mikey get stuck at 17-27. This can be accomplished contractually with very little risk to the brands.
Despite the headlines in this news, Matt Powell, Senior Sports Industry Advisor at The NPD Group Inc., doesn’t think this news should be shocking or unusual for anyone.
“The system, if you will, has always been built around younger and younger ages. You have kids like Mikey who go to elite basketball school, probably spending more time playing basketball than studying, and you have traveling teams and summer tournaments, so kids are selected as potential pros at a younger age, ”Powell told FN. . “It really has been the legacy of the professional sports machine and I don’t see it as a massive development.”
Part of the reason Powell thinks that a high school athlete signing with a major sports brand isn’t shocking news is that companies have been spending money at that level for years.
“They’re already making these investments because brands like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armor are spending a lot of money to support these summer tournaments and celebrity tournaments, and they’re paying some schools to be brand endorsers,” Powell said. . “It doesn’t necessarily go to the players in particular, but there is money that is invested.”
He continued, “If they keep the money reasonably smart here, that’s a good strategy. If I can sign Mikey Williams for $ 10,000 a year and give him free stuff and he’s inclined to want to wear my brand when he becomes a pro, that’s good for the brand. If brands are going to start paying high school kids millions of dollars, they’re crazy. “
The fame of Williams, who is only 17, is already on the rise, despite the fact that he won’t be eligible for the NBA Draft until 2024. The player signed with Excel Sports Management in July to pursue NIL sponsorship deals, and in an ESPN report released at the time, company vice president Matt Davis said he believed they ” were generating millions of dollars for this young man.
This month, Williams appeared in an advertisement for the NBA 2K22 video game – while wearing Puma – alongside Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum.
Despite the public profile, Powell believes that if Puma offers him a deal, it will be “relatively small” – between $ 10,000 and $ 50,000.
“I don’t see this as a million dollar contract,” Powell said. “He’s too far from being a professional prospect, and we don’t even see the successful offers for NBA rookies that we used to see. To make a big bet on even younger children even further removed from the game would be dangerous. Saying “I want to lock up a player with my brand at a young age” makes sense, but I don’t think they can spend a lot of money on it. “
While Beckman hasn’t named a prize, he, too, believes the payout won’t be staggering.
“It will be fair and equitable, but not upsetting,” Beckman said. “Puma will manage its risk by incorporating some mutually agreed upon objective milestones that Mikey will need to achieve in order for the long term earnings and bonuses to kick in.”
In late June, the NCAA announced that an interim policy had been adopted by all three divisions, suspending name, image and likeness rules that would impact incoming and current student-athletes in all sports. Interim allows college athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness.
And the players did not wait to sign sponsorship agreements. On July 2, Kellan Grady, a former Davidson College guard who transferred to the University of Kentucky in March, announced he had signed with ISlide. On an Instagram post, ISlide said Grady’s deal made him the first NCAA player to sign with a shoe brand.