The new era of “Name, Image and Likeness,” more commonly known as NIL, is an opportunity for student-athletes to claim their name, image and likeness as a marketable item.
The Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce announced a new program Wednesday designed to connect student-athletes at Ole Miss with career development opportunities and NIL benefits.
This new program will be managed directly by the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce.
Donors into the program will have the opportunity to invest in a fund that can benefit all student-athletes at Ole Miss.
The Chamber of Commerce offers an opportunity to provide benefits to all student-athletes to participate in the financial benefits that are usually available only to the “stars” of the top-level programs.
“We want to include all our athletes, whether it’s someone on the golf team or the star quarterback,” said Chamber president and CEO Jon Maynard.
What makes the program developed in Oxford different from other programs is that funds will be made available to all participating student-athletes on a regular basis.
Student-athletes will take part in community service or other such activities in order to receive financial benefits, such as visiting the Boys and Girls Club.
“The Chamber’s philosophy is that better college athletics produces a stronger economy,” Maynard said. “The Chamber wants the student-athletes to feel as though the entire community has come together to support them in their efforts.”
The secondary distinction with the Chamber’s NIL program is that participating student-athletes will have opportunities to find internships, mentorship and career development in the chosen career paths relevant to their degree programs.
“All student-athletes will go pro in something, so let’s set them up to have success in their chosen career path,” Maynard said. “We believe that this program is the first of its kind sponsored through a local Chamber of Commerce. We want to set the standard for making the NIL era as truly beneficial for the entire community as possible.”
Chamber of Commerce Chairman Quentin Brewer conceived the program late last Fall.
“We want to support our athletes as much as we can in order to create a more resilient economy in Oxford and Lafayette County. Our community grows when Ole Miss Athletics does well,” Brewer said.
The plan is to offer programs that will allow large and small donors to contribute to the fund. The Chamber will develop a portal in which the donor can contribute as little as $10 per month into the NIL program.
Larger, one-time donors can contribute directly to the Chamber of Commerce program and they can make specific requests of where their funds should go. For example, they can request their donation to go toward the athletes on the volleyball team.
The third opportunity for donors will come in the form of payment to specific athletes for specific promotions or endorsements. This plan offers flexibility to both the student-athletes as well as the donors.
The Chamber will be looking to hire a new director of the program and will begin accepting donations into the program by May of 2022. The program is expected to be fully funded and ready to make offers of participation to student-athletes but Aug. 1.
“Donors into the program can be assured that they are benefiting the athletics programs that they love as well as the community that they adore,” Maynard said.
Anyone wishing to donate to the program can currently send an email to NILDonate@Oxfordms.com.
News editor Alyssa Schnugg contributed to this report.