Entering year two of the NIL era, the ability to monetize a player’s name, image and likeness is benefiting both UNC basketball players and local Chapel Hill businesses alike.
In June 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled the NCAA violated antitrust laws, and it could not restrict college athletes from receiving compensation outside of scholarships and stipends. As a result, college athletes could begin making money by using their name, image and likeness through merchandise, camps, social media posts and other branding opportunities.
The ruling went into effect on July 1, and Holly Dedmond, store manager at Chapel Hill Sportswear, said she was approached by parents of a football player to begin working together soon after.
By mid-July of 2021, the store offered its first merchandise featuring current UNC athletes. Now, over a year later, the store stocks T-shirts with the faces of current basketball players Armando Bacot and RJ Davis, former player Brady Manek, field hockey forward Erin Matson and many more.
In order to have their T-shirts sold at the store, athletes submit their designs, and the store screen-prints them. Then, the profit is split between the store and the athlete.
Dedmond said NIL has had a positive impact on the store by bringing in more customers – both in the store and online. She added that NIL further solidifies the store’s relationship with the UNC athletic department and the individual teams.
“It's fun when RJ Davis comes in the store and says, ‘Hey, how's my T-shirt selling?’,” she said. “It's kind of neat to say, ‘Hey, I know him.’”
In addition to NIL shirts, the store has also hosted autograph signings, and Dedmond said she enjoys getting to watch the players interact with people.
“That's a lot of fun when they get to be a person, not just an athlete,” she said. “We enjoy that.”