The Braves’ interest is an extension of the team’s popular “college nights” promotions at games.
The NHL’s Florida Panthers have announced similar interest in making NIL deals with college athletes. Mize said he isn’t aware of any other MLB team going down this path yet.
The Braves put word out on Instagram about their desire to work with college athletes in promoting the team, stating three criteria for candidates: being a Braves fan, attending a school in “Braves Country” and being active on social media. The Braves have received close to 500 direct messages from interested athletes, Mize said. The team is vetting the respondents and expects to soon select the first two athletes to approach.
“We’re less concerned about what sport you play and more interested in your social media following and engagement,” Mize said.
The Braves are considering focusing their attention initially on working with one athlete from Georgia and one from Georgia Tech before expanding the program to athletes at other schools. The team envisions the athletes’ promotional role being pretty much limited to social-media posts.
“It’s similar to what we’ve done with non-collegiate-athlete influencers over the past years,” Mize said. “It’s also something that is very natural for (college students). We don’t want this to be a significant time commitment for a fall athlete whose practices are going to be starting.”
After long enforcing rules that barred college athletes from receiving compensation beyond the value of their scholarships, the NCAA entered a new era July 1 in which athletes can make money from third parties for endorsement deals, social-media posts, personal appearances, autograph signings and the like – all without compromising their collegiate eligibility. New state laws in Georgia and elsewhere prodded the NCAA to change its policy on the issue nationally.