Orlando, Fla. - The University of Central Florida Women's Basketball team is making history as the first sponsored team in the new NIL era of college athletics. As of last week, NCAA athletes can now profit from their name, image, and likeness.
College HUNKS Hauling Junk and Moving is sponsoring the entire UCF Women's Basketball team.
Guard Rebecca Ripley says it's bringing her team together off the court in a new way.
"It was so exciting I felt like an entire unity with my team," said Ripley. "It’s difficult being in women’s sports not getting a lot of publicity, and now sponsorships and enforcements and the fact that it was the entire team and not just one stand-out star, it's something that's unheard of."
College HUNKS Hauling Junk and Moving made a financial agreement with each member of the team. The student-athletes are expected to promote and represent their brand. For the co-founder of College HUNKS, Nick Friedman, he says it's personal.
"I played college basketball and I also have three daughters so partnering with a basketball team and a women’s basketball team was really fulfilling for me as a founder and as a father to be able to support female athletes and support a basketball program at the same time," said Friedman.
He hopes to inspire other companies to do the same.
"Hopefully, this inspires other brands, even much larger than ours, to take notice and get involved and help to support these college athletes who work so hard and have not gotten paid up until this point," said Friedman.
As for Ripley, she hopes to pave the way for future athletes.
"I think it’s a big positive step in the right direction," said Ripley. "It’s very exciting and it opens the door for a lot of us. It’s setting us all up not only for opportunities but also further in life too, past basketball, and being able to market ourselves."