Adidas said the 15 athletes combine on-field success with a passion for using their platforms to create change.
Every generation of athletes has benefited in some way from the achievements and sacrifices of those that came before.
It’s a theme that tennis great and Adidas ambassador Billie Jean King kept coming back to on Tuesday night as she spoke on a panel at Adidas headquarters in New York to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the next group of Adidas NIL signees.
Those signees — 15 women across seven sports and six Division I conferences — were not there by accident. Yes, they all excel in their sport at an Adidas school. But just as importantly, they have a track record of using their platforms as student-athletes to elevate those around them, paving a road for the next generation, much like King and others did for them.
“Our conversations with these athletes are about ‘what do you care about? Does it align with what we care about? How can we make change together?'” Jeanne Schneider, Director of Adidas NCAA Marketing and Licensing, told Boardroom. “We wanted to make sure as a brand that we can support what these athletes are already passionate about.”
Check out the full list of Adidas NIL signees:
|Maddy Anderson||Mississippi State||Soccer|
|Jayci “Jay” Goldsmith||Texas A&M||Tennis|
|Jameese Joseph||NC State||Soccer|
|Erin Moss||Georgia Tech||Volleyball|
|Moriah Oliveira||Miami||Track & Field|
|Gianna Pielet||Texas A&M||Tennis|
|Izzy Redmond||Arizona State||Gymnastics|
|Jaiden Thomas||NC State||Soccer|
|Hailey Van Lith||Louisville||Basketball|
|India Wells||Grambling State||Volleyball|
As Adidas NIL signees, those athletes will do more than wear Three Stripes gear on social and make a quick buck; the brand is committed to providing them with a more holistic experience, which includes a new mentorship program in collaboration with WNBA champion and future Hall of Famer Candace Parker. That program kicked off on Tuesday when the 15 athletes met with the WNBA’s Layshia Clarendon, as well as soccer stars Ifeoma Onumonu, Kristine Lilly, and Imani Dorsey and Peloton instructor/Brooklyn Nets in-arena host Ally Love.
“Their win is a win for everyone,” Dorsey told Boardroom of the new Adidas NIL athletes. “Whether it’s their passions that they want to pursue or their individual stories, they make up a group that hopefully is very representative of female athletes across the country playing sports.”
The Tuesday announcement comes about four months after Adidas unveiled its NIL ambassador network. Created with the goal of building a more equitable future in sport, the program gives the opportunity for every eligible student-athlete at an Adidas school to become a paid brand ambassador, regardless of their gender or sport.
As Adidas delves further into the name, image, and likeness space, it is also promoting allyship on college campuses. The brand has already partnered with Athlete Ally, a nonprofit LGBTQ athletic advocacy group that aims to end homophobia and transphobia in sports. Adidas announced on Tuesday that it will work with Athlete Ally on outreach and workshops at eight Adidas schools to support education, policy reform, and activism among students.
It all goes back to King’s wisdom about helping create a better world for the athletes of tomorrow.
“There was really intentionality behind how can we bring together a group of young women who doing incredible things on the field and off the field as well, and trying to use their platform for something bigger,” Dorsey said. “Adidas is really backing it up. They’re walking the walk and this campaign couldn’t speak more to that.”
From Adidas’ perspective, there’s also a practical component here. In signing 15 athletes who perform well on the field, the court, and the track, the brand can start building relationships with the next great pros in a variety of sports. There’s no expectation that a name, image, and likeness deal today means a full-on professional endorsement in the future, but the possibility is there.
But even if that doesn’t happen, as Schneider said, Adidas can play a meaningful role in celebrating and amplifying athletes’ achievements right now.
“We want to see them accomplish what they want to accomplish,” she said. “We have some athletes in there that might invent something. They might find a new solution to one of the world’s problems. We want to see that, too.”