The Florida Panthers said on Wednesday that they will sign any interested and eligible FAU female athlete to an endorsement deal under the new rules that allow college players to capitalize on their name, image and likeness for endorsement opportunities.
According to ESPN, the deal will pay each athlete some cash along with tickets to Panthers games and other merchandise in exchange for promoting the NHL franchise on social media and at in-person events. The two athletes who generate the most buzz on social media during the season will also receive a four-figure bonus payment. Sam Doerr, the Panthers’ chief strategy officer, said the franchise saw the deals as an opportunity to give back to the community and as an outside-the-box way to attract a new, young and diverse fan base.
The Panthers established the “FLA Athlete” program this summer after the state of Florida passed a law that makes sure college athletes are allowed to make money from their names, images and likenesses (NIL). The NCAA has also changed its amateurism rules to allow athletes to accept payment for certain activities without losing their eligibility.
No other major sports franchise is known to have made such an offer, and it comes after the Panthers became the first pro team to sign a college athlete as an endorser when they struck a deal with Miami quarterback D’Eriq King earlier this summer.
The Florida Panthers were seeking a female athlete from Florida Atlantic University to be the next college student they sign to an endorsement deal. Unable to choose one, they’re making the offer to more than 200 of them.
By Jon Sorensen