Grambling State is planning to announce a new name, image and likeness deal that will compensate each of the school's scholarship athletes, according to ESPN's Pete Thamel.
Thamel described the agreement as "believed to be the first of its kind." He added that the amount of money that will be paid out to the athletes is unknown.
Proponents of NIL reform have argued that allowing students to receive monetary compensation could be a great equalizer in college sports. One sports economist told Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel that "it’s impossible for the competitive balance to get worse" than the gulf between the haves and have-nots that grew under the longtime model for college athletics.
Now, schools outside a major conference—or an entire division below, in the case of some Grambling programs—can flex their financial muscle to help bridge the gap.
Michael McCann @McCannSportsLaw
Smart move by Grambling State. School will, deservedly, get credit for making deal happen where the entity that pays players isn't the school but is instead a 3rd party. Best kind of deal for a school: builds goodwill with athletes, helps them get paid but school isn't the payer. <a href="https://t.co/eBOcUnOBAg">https://t.co/eBOcUnOBAg</a>
Grambling State's NIL deal also comes as it's gaining traction for elite high school athletes to commit to historically Black colleges and universities. The Atlantic's Jemele Hill made the case in October 2019 that HBCUs would gain benefits beyond the playing field if they once again became landing spots for top talent.
Deion Sanders is making waves at Jackson State. He signed five 4-star recruits in his 2021 class and will add Travis Hunter, the No. 1 player in 247Sports' composite rankings for 2022, this coming season.
Under the tenure of legendary head coach Eddie Robinson, Grambling State was one of the most decorated HBCUs on the gridiron, but the Tigers' decline dovetailed with that of HBCU football as a whole.
Between hiring former NFL head coach Hue Jackson and its historic NIL deal, Grambling State clearly envisions taking a step up in the coming years.