Partnering with Student-Athletes: XO Armor's NIL Partnership with Auburn Soccer Player Hailey Whitaker

As many college sports fans know, starting in 2021, the NCAA changed its policy on whether student-athletes can profit off of their name, image, and likeness.

Before this rule change, a student-athlete was prohibited from using their name, image, and likeness for profit. It was a huge change from tradition and the NCAA established only a few basic rules to preserve college amateurism, such as avoiding pay-for-play and inducements for athletes to choose one school over another. Besides this, the NCAA left anything else to state law.  However, several states and many universities have already begun adopting laws and rules to allow their athletes to benefit from the change. (NCAA Policy)

The new rule was a great opportunity for businesses as well.

Many college athletes have large followings on social media and then go on to play professionally. Therefore, these partnerships between the athlete and a small business can be important for both sides. The athlete can earn extra money. Anyone who is familiar with being a student-athlete knows that the schedule leaves room for little else in the student’s life.

For businesses, the benefits include extra awareness of the brand, which is really important for a startup or small company. Also, just creating that relationship between the business and the athlete is very rewarding. It can help connect any business to the community in a way that is difficult to achieve with other methods.

As XO Armor expanded its reach into sports other than football, we decided to take advantage of the new policy as well and partner with a student-athlete here at Auburn University.

Because XO Armor sees huge potential in application of our technology in soccer, we met with several players to have them test our shin guards. We received very positive responses. One of those athletes was Hailey Whitaker, our first NIL partnership. Hailey was really happy with the shin guards that we made for her and was excited to help us promote XO Armor. We are so excited to reveal Hailey’s content. She did an awesome job and XO Armor is thankful for her commitment to providing quality content.