KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The 565 student-athletes at the University of Tennessee can now start earning money for themselves.
This after a historic decision from the NCAA Thursday, they cleared the way for student-athletes in every state to profit off their name, image and likeness without jeopardizing their college eligibility.
One person who has been on the front lines of this debate is the University of Tennessee Wide Receiver, Grant Frerking.
“Grant Frerking is a guy who had a few coming down the chutes, he had a couple small deals, and then he has his own company paying his own teammates to advertise his company, which is a pretty interesting move,” said Staff Writer for The Athletic, David Ubben.
Frerking is the founder and CEO of his own landscaping company with branches in Atlanta, Nashville and Charlotte. He said he knows these rules changing will help all of his fellow student-athletes.
“You can use what you have built as a student-athlete, as a person, what you have grinded your whole life for, what you and your family have sacrificed for, you can now go out, help your family out, help yourself out, invest for the future based off endless opportunities,” said Frerking.
He also talked about how this can help communities like Knoxville and the communities that student-athletes come from.
“I can go to a restaurant in Knoxville, my favorite restaurant that I love, best friends with the owner and I can’t use my influence with all my followers to take a picture and say, ‘This is the best food in Knoxville, you guys better go try it out,'” began Frerking. “And he can’t say, ‘meals on me.'”
Frerking went on to talk about how it’s not just the revenue athletes that will benefit from the changes. “You can take a swimmer or diver and let’s say someone in their hometown is launching a great, new piece of pool equipment,” he said. “That can be a residential, commercial, HOA type thing they can go sell to people.”
He also used baseball as another example. “You have a baseball player, a new bat or new glove comes out, go promote that in their hometown,” said Frerking. “They can go do camps with travel ball, you know how big travel ball is in the south.”
Ubben said social media is where most of the money-making potential will be. “It’s really going to depend on what you can do and what you’re connections are and how big your following is,” he said.
Both Ubben and Frerking agreed these changes were needed since many of these student-athletes are in their prime-time and so few of them will have an athletic career after graduation. “There’s a small percentage. maybe 1, 2, 3% that actually end up going pro from the collegiate level,” said Frerking. “Aside from that, there’s even a small percentage that come from high school to play college, especially at a university like Tennessee, in a market that we’re in for the opportunity.”
Frerking said he hopes everyone can reap the rewards from what happened Thursday. “Just doing everything we can to give back to this great state and great university that’s given us so much.”
The NCAA’s decision to suspend restrictions on payments to athletes for things such as sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances applies to all three divisions or some 460,000 athletes across the nation.
The NCAA also is allowing athletes to enter into agreements with agents while encouraging them to keep schools informed. The NCAA said schools are responsible “for determining whether those activities are consistent with state law.”
The University of Tennessee Athletics released its guidelines for student-athletes Thursday afternoon.