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Memphis Tigers athletes benefitting from name, image and likeness on Day One

NCAA allowed athletes to monetize their brands beginning July 1

MEMPHIS, Tenn — The floodgates are finally open for college athletes.

Beginning this month, college athletes can begin using their name, image and likeness to get paid.

"It definitely is a mind shift in terms of what name image and likeness looks like," said Dr. Adam Walker, University of Memphis executive associate athletic director.

After decades of opposing NIL benefits for its athletes, the NCAA passed legislation last month amid public and legal pressure.

"They've kind of taken the guardrails off and really said, 'Hey it's up to your state, the law of your state and the institutional policy,'" Walker said. "Other making sure it's fair market value and not being used as an inducement or pay-for-play or a recruiting violation, they basically said 'Hey, it's going to be allowed.'"

At the state level, there are other restrictions. In Tennessee, no gambling, tobacco, alcohol or adult entertainment endorsements are allowed.

But with the G-League and other professional outlets offering six-figure deals for top basketball talent, Thursday's news presents a chance for colleges like the U of M new ammunition to compete for recruits.

"I think we have an opportunity here with a large Metropolitan area that really cares about the University of Memphis and our student athletes," Walker said. "I think long term it's going to be a benefit for us and help level that playing field."

The University has partnered with a company called Opendorse to help athletes connect with companies and track their deals.

Sponsored posts from Tigers football players already popped up on social media Thursday. Tigers basketball star Landers Nolley II announced he is partnering with a recruiting website called Stock Risers, where he will post weekly content throughout the Tigers season.

"I think everyone is excited," Nolley said. "We're finally getting the reward or what we deserve for our actions at the Universities, so I think it's fair.

In sports, that is all you can ask for.