Even with the ability to sign name, image, licensing deals, North Carolina athletes face several challenges if they want to sell merchandise.
UNC football senior linebacker Kaimon Rucker can name a couple: the type of design an athlete wants, creating a logo that will best represent an athlete’s personality, finding a website to drop merch. The list continues.
“Honestly, I feel like the main thing is just getting the plane to take off,” Rucker said.
The UNC NIL Store, which launched on Jan. 16, may help get athletes’ apparel aims off the tarmac. UNC offered the opportunity to all of its athletes. According to its previous press releases on partnering with Temple University and Georgetown University, the NIL store handles numerous operations such as product design, marketing and customer service and is operated by Campus Ink.
Rucker launched his “Ruck the Butcher” merchandise thanks to his former high school football coach and owner of The Champions Locker Room, Greg Gaines. Gaines and his team in Rucker’s hometown ofHartwell, Ga., designs the logos and Rucker approves them.
UNC has offered educational services for other athletes who wish to make merchandise like this. For example, according to Associate Athletic Director Nate Wood, the UNC Law School has provided legal assistance, and UNC's partners — Compass and INFLCR — create several short tutorials on graphic design and scrubbing logos.
“We'll put out the crayons and the paper," Wood said, "But you guys draw."
When the UNC NIL Store launched, athletes already had T-shirts, hoodies and crewnecks with their name and, when applicable, jersey number on the back. Any given item is the same price, no matter the athlete.
Any athlete can now also make custom designs. Wood said Campus Ink plans to select a few UNC athletes it believes will have the biggest impact and help them create designs of their own.