The acquisitions continue. Today, WWE announced its next “Next in Line” class of collegiate athletes who are allowed to profit off of their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL). This program allows students to begin training in WWE while still attending colleges and universities worldwide.
The class is as follows:
- Ali Mattox of Ole Miss, a 5-foot-7 cheer & dance athlete from Little Rock, Ark.
- Case Hatch of Arizona State, a 6-foot-1, 230-pound football player from Gilbert, Ariz.
- Chandler Hayden of Tennessee, a 5-foot-11 track & field athlete from Pittsfield, Ill.
- Cohlton Schultz of Arizona State, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound wrestler from Parker, Colo.
- Derrian Gobourne of Auburn, a 5-foot-4 gymnast from Sarasota, Fla.
- Ericka Link of Elon, a 5-foot-6 volleyball player from Hedgesville, W.Va.
- Keshaun Moore of Hampton, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound football player from Suffolk, Va.
- Luke Ford of Illinois, a 6-foot-6, 260-pound football player from Carterville, Ill.
- Maliq Carr of Michigan State, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound football and basketball player from Inkster, Mich.
- Mikala Hall of Central Michigan, a 5-foot-5 basketball player from Danville, Ill.
- Rachel Glenn of South Carolina, a 6-foot track & field athlete from Long Beach, Calif.
- Ruben Banks of Arkansas, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound track & field athlete from Binfield, England
- Thunder Keck of Stanford, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound football player from Northfield, N.H.
- Tyanna Omazic of Miami, a 6-foot-2 volleyball player from Kansas City, Mo.
- Zachary Knighton-Ward of Hofstra, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound wrestler from Rosedale, N.Y.
WWE’s comprehensive NIL program launched in December and serves to recruit and develop potential future Superstars, and further enhances WWE’s talent development process through collaborative partnerships with college athletes from diverse athletic backgrounds. “Next In Line” has signed 31 full-time college athletes since its inception and currently has 25 active athletes following the graduation of six inaugural members from the program.
All athlete partnerships will feature access to the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., in addition to resources across the organization, including brand building, media training, communications, live event promotion, creative writing and community relations. Upon completion of the NIL program, select athletes may earn an exclusive opportunity to be offered a WWE contract. All six athletes who graduated from the first class have either signed or are in discussion to join WWE on a full-time basis.
I have felt for a while that college athletes need to be paid based on the revenue they generate for their respective institutions. I’ll be curious to see which athletes are successfully able to make the jump to professional wrestling!
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