Higher Education: Athletes
Student athletes across Florida are cashing in
From football players to gymnasts, athletes across Florida are cashing in.
- Tyler Van Dyke is coming off a breakout year on the field and in the finances. The University of Miami quarterback won ACC Rookie of the Year and ranked in the top 15 nationally for yards per completion, passing efficiency and passing yards per game. Off the field, he signed with Topps, Campus Mogul and others. LifeWallet, founded by Miami businessman and attorney John Ruiz, also signed a $50,000 deal with him. Ruiz has showered money on Miami athletes and is suing to force the state to allow high school athletes to monetize their value, too. Van Dyke’s a presence on Instagram and Twitter, where you can find him retweeting Florida Concierge Medicine & Wellness tweets and touting an IV fluid rehydration center — he has a coupon for you — in Hollywood.
- Trinity Thomas’ Instagram profile sums her up perfectly: UF gymnast and recent graduate, four-time U.S. national team member, and in a sign of how college athletes can now monetize themselves, the words “NIL inquiries” and a link to her agent. Observers of the NIL field place Thomas near the top of the list of the most valuable college athletes in Florida when it comes to name, image and likeness rights. An applied physiology and kinesiology major from York, Pa., she was this year’s individual NCAA champion in the all-around, floor and bars, and posted the second-best total score ever in an NCAA final. Her reported deals include Honey Stinger energy snacks, IT firm Milner Technologies (which split $10,000 among four women athletes) and NoCap Sports. She was one of the first six nationally to receive money under an H&R Block program to provide $1 million to female college athletes.
- The highest ranked Florida athlete on digital media company On3’s most valuable NIL athletes is a high school basketball player: Hansel Emmanuel. Ranked at No. 6, Emmanuel trails behind only the likes of the offspring of LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in a poor neighborhood, he lost his left arm at age 6 when a wall collapsed and trapped him for two hours, necessitating the amputation. Videos of him playing basketball attracted wide attention, and he moved in 2021 to Life Christian Academy in Orlando. “God always has a purpose. I am living his mission,” he once told the Orlando Sentinel. Florida doesn’t allow high school athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness — it’s being challenged in court — so Emmanuel will have to wait for college. He has a scholarship offer from Memphis. With 1.4 million Instagram followers and 2.5 million on TikTok, On3 pegs his NIL valuation at $1.3 million. His Instagram bio is three lines: His name, the sport he plays, and his agent’s Instagram handle. His agent says he’s not doing interviews.
- As the quarterback of a state flagship university, Anthony Richardson is the kind of athlete everyone expects to profit the most in the era of college athletes being able to monetize their fame. His Fort Lauderdale lawyer Darren Heitner says the UF signal caller wants to make a limited amount of six- and seven-figure deals rather than a plethora of smaller ones. Publicly reported to date: A deal with Gainesville Dodge got him a 2021 Dodge Durango or similar vehicle with the ability to change it out through 2023, according to ActionNetwork.com. He also participates in Outback Steakhouse’s TeamMATES program, in which Outback donates meals to military families and players host give-back nights to raise money for their charities of choice.
- For his first NIL foray, FSU offensive lineman and Notre Dame transfer Dillan Gibbons started a GoFundMe page to bring Timothy Donovan and his family to last year’s season opener in Tallahassee. Disabled since birth, Donovan met Gibbons outside the Notre Dame stadium. They formed a connection that endured after Gibbons became a Seminole. Gibbons’ campaign raised $55,184 and received donated hotel rooms, restaurant meals and gear for the Donovans. Surplus funds went to Donovan’s medical expenses. GoFundMe signed Gibbons as its first sponsored athlete, and he launched a non-profit to help other athletes replicate what he’s done. “There’s not very much glory in my position,” Gibbons told ESPN. “We usually get attention when we do something wrong. It was amazing the way it took off.”
- UF gymnast Leah Clapper created a board game, Balance Palace, “to help more gymnasts find the fun.” She’s also had a deal with frozen yogurt bar company Yasso and has her own food and wellness blog. The 2021 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year graduated summa cum laude in August and is now pursuing a master’s in the College of Journalism and Communications while continuing her gymnastic and NIL career. She’s been nominated for awards at the INFLCR NIL Summit.