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Florida track and field star makes history with Nike

Parker Valby of the University of Florida becomes the first female NCAA track athlete to sign a NIL deal with Nike

Parker Valby Photo by: Florida Gators Athletics

Parker Valby, the 2023 NCAA 5,000m champion from Florida, has signed a groundbreaking Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) deal with Nike. With this agreement, Valby becomes the first female track and field athlete to secure am NIL deal with the renowned U.S. sportswear giant.

“I’m thrilled to announce that Nike is sponsoring me as their first female NCAA T&F athlete. Nike has given me the tools to pursue my passion at the highest level and I’m so excited for what the future holds,” Valby posted on her Instagram.

This season, Valby made a name for herself in the NCAA. The second-year student at the University of Florida finished second to Katelyn Tuohy at the 2022 NCAA XC Championships in November and claimed the 5,000m title at the 2023 NCAA Track and Field Championships in 15:30.57, despite battling a lower leg injury that limited her running during the indoor season.

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Her victory in the 5,000m not only solidified Valby’s status as one of the top-tier athletes in the NCAA, but also captured the attention of major sportswear brands like Nike. The significance of her deal cannot be overstated, as it marks a significant step forward for female track and field athletes in the NCAA. This endorsement deal provides Valby with well-deserved recognition and financial support, enabling her to continue pursuing her academic and athletic aspirations while receiving sponsorship dollars.

An NIL deal lets college athletes monetize their personal brand, profiting from their name, image, and likeness through endorsement deals, sponsorships and other commercial opportunities while still participating in collegiate sports.

Only two years ago, NCAA athletes were prohibited from profiting from their fame and clout. It was not until July 2021 that the NCAA passed a rule allowing student-athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness. While a NIL deal may not hold the same monetary value as a professional deal, it grants athletes the ability to compete at the collegiate level while earning income from their image.

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