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The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona softball lands NIL deals

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Nathanial Stenchever

Arizona softball player Paige Dimler (22) celebrates with teammates after hitting her second home run of the season on March 15 in Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium. Dimler helped the Wildcats win by hitting another home run to center field at her next at bat. 

After taking a backseat to men’s sports when it comes to the two-year-old NIL policy, female athletes are finally sitting at the table with companies anxious to give them a voice and pay them for it.

On June 30, 2021, the NCAA approved the name, image and likeness policy — commonly known as just “NIL” — which allows student-athletes to profit from their athletic accomplishments.

Student-athletes are allowed to earn money from team sponsorships and individual endorsements without receiving any of the harsh punishments from the past that the NCAA would implement, such as revoking championships and awards and making players ineligible to compete in collegiate games.

NIL deals are bringing in large sums of cash for college athletes around the nation, including the Arizona softball team.

Team officials said they have had a positive experience with the new NIL policy because they receive financial compensation, which is especially valuable to the walk-on athletes who don’t receive a full scholarship to pay for tuition, room and board.

According to the UA, the cost of attendance for walk-on athletes is $30,400 for Arizona residents and $59,200 for non-resident students.

“It’s been huge. We just got our first deal [in January] and for us, it was awesome because it was a team-wide deal, and they came in and signed softball and women’s basketball,” head softball coach Caitlin Lowe said. “I love when strong female athletes get their voices amplified, and I think what better role models than this team to have deals like that and opportunities like that.”

Lowe said NIL deals are mostly seen on the men’s side, and the deals don’t happen a lot for women. Sometimes the Mike Candrea Field at Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium and the softball athletes are overlooked. The new NIL deals have helped softball athletes get the attention and pay they deserve.

“We just have great people representing this university and softball, and it’s nice to see them get some recognition,” Lowe said.

Softball athletes are allowed to earn money and receive products from team sponsorships, which adds to any individual endorsements they may already have.

According to Lowe, the team signed with G.O.A.T. Fuel, which is great for the entire team since they benefit from the monetary incentives and the free energy drinks. Lowe would not comment on the specifics of the deal

Arizona catcher and infielder Izzy Pacho said she was at first a little overwhelmed by the NIL deals since football and basketball players were signing trading card deals and getting so much money.

“I think there are so many opportunities like MarketPryce, who just signed a deal with us, who want our voices to be heard and want to invest in us because we are good athletes, and we are here for a reason,” Pacho said.

MarketPryce, a company specializing in closing athlete influencer marketing deals, is helping Arizona softball athletes gain positive exposure and benefit financially.

“NIL deals are super diverse right now. I think with us taking on MarketPryce, a lot of opportunities are flowing through the doors and that’s exciting,” Arizona infielder Sophia Carroll said. “I like how open companies have been toward working with us and our passion specifically. I know other sports have opportunities tailored to them, but I like how inclusive and diverse our opportunities are.”

Carroll said softball athletes are benefiting from sponsorships that were not available in the past, including deals that are exclusive to the team and Hillenbrand.

“We get fuel for pregame and postgame, energy drinks and custom cleats, trading cards — if you’re into that — [and] the opportunity to create your own merch line,” she said.


*El Inde Arizona is a news service of the University of Arizona School of Journalism.


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