Updated: Jul 20
This year’s Men’s and Women’s Division I Basketball Tournaments, also known as “March Madness,” marks the first time in tournament history that college athletes will be able to cash in on name, image and likeness (NIL) deals since NCAA rule changes and state laws went into effect that allow college athletes to monetize their NIL. Drew Timme, the Gonzaga University basketball star who broke the internet with his signature handlebar mustache in last year’s March Madness tournament, has signed a NIL deal with Dollar Shave Club. Dollar Shave Club is calling Timme the first and only “Chin-fluencer,” a reference to the smooth chin he had because of the handlebar mustache. The sponsorship with Timme is part of the brand’s “Noticeably Smooth” marketing campaign, which will also include a television commercial that will broadcast nationally during the March Madness games. The campaign also includes a chance to win tickets to this year’s Men’s Final Four for participants who share a photo entry (a “chin-try”) on Instagram or Twitter of their smooth chins, tagging the brand and using the hashtag #chintry.
Timme’s NIL deal with Dollar Shave Club represents a new era of athlete marketability during March Madness. Other brands and college basketball players have also entered into NIL deals prior to the start of March Madness. Yahoo Sports recently announced that it signed Timme’s Gonzaga teammate Chet Holmgren and Duke University’s Paolo Banchero, both predicted to be top picks in this year’s NBA draft, to NIL deals to supports its Yahoo Sports Tourney Pick’em bracket game for March Madness. Outback Steakhouse launched a campaign with both men’s and women’s college basketball players, where the restaurant chain is promoting their favorite menu items. Candy Digital is rolling out its “Candy Sweet Futures Basketball” NFT collection from March 7 – 21 for eight college basketball players just in time for March Madness. The NCAA brought in $1.15 billion of revenue for 2021, most of which was generated by the Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament. The NCAA’s rules, however, prohibit college athletes from receiving any payments, directly or indirectly, from the March Madness revenue for their athletic participation. The new NIL rules, however, now give college basketball players, like Timme, an opportunity to have a piece of the March Madness pie by allowing them to profit from NIL deals during March Madness. This is March, let the NIL madness begin.
Ryan Whelpley is an Associate at Morse in Waltham, Massachusetts, where he is a member of the firm’s Corporate Practice Group and focuses on venture capital financings, M&A transactions, and general corporate work for startup and emerging growth companies. He is a graduate of Albany Law School (2019) and Union College (2016). At Union, Ryan was a member and three-year captain of the Men’s Basketball Team. You can connect with him via LinkedIn.