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Louisville NIL collective signs women's basketball, volleyball teams

On3 imageby:Andy Wittry08/07/23


The NIL collective 502Circle announced Monday it signed team-wide NIL deals with Louisville‘s women’s basketball and volleyball teams.

The Cardinals women’s volleyball and basketball teams are two of the strongest nationally in their respective sports. Louisville finished as the national runner-up to Texas in last season’s volleyball tournament, while the Cardinals reached the Elite Eight in the 2023 basketball tournament.

“Those are both programs that have had continued excellence over the last few years that we look to continue to push them forward and put them in a situation where they continue to take off,” 502Circle president Dan Furman told On3. “Both those programs are knocking on the door of a national championship and for us, we’re here as a support system to help them get there.”

502Circle signed 29 athletes between the two programs.

“For both teams, it’s a six-figure commitment that we divvied up amongst the group,” Furman said. “Both teams had a specific allocation. But combined, it comes out to over six figures. So, there’s significant investment there and you don’t see a lot of schools jumping into the space this way.

“We’ve had businesses take the opportunity to really push their brand forward with our student-athletes, and we’re excited about it. It’s not going to stop there, either. There’s interest in continuing to expand that partnership and you’ll see more of that over the next couple months.”

The compensation the collective is paying varies depending on the player.

“Obviously we have some pretty high-profile athletes on each of those teams so it does vary but we try and base it off of giving everyone an opportunity,” Furman said. “It is a little bit staggered. But we’re doing the best we can to put everybody in a good situation to have success so it’s not too dramatic.”

Businesses contributing to NIL ‘see the value’

Furman credited the support of local businesses, such as Park Community Credit Union, which recently partnered with Louisville women’s volleyball players to put on a free, two-day youth camp.

“Ultimately, they’re people that see the value in our female student-athletes,” Furman said. “Folks that have female executives on staff that believe in it and have spent time around our athletes. The CMO of the company that made the significant commitment to get it done was actually a cheerleader at UofL, so she understands it. She wants to push that narrative that we’re going to continue to excel in women’s sports, and they can have a huge impact in our community with kids and with families that need their support.”

Jeff Walz’s approach to recruiting

In July, Louisville women’s basketball coach Jeff Walz shared with On3 how he explains the level of support the Louisville women’s basketball program receives, within the context of NIL and recruiting.

“I’m not interested in a student-athlete that really, all they care about is ‘What am I going to get for it?'” Walz said. “I always like to tell them, we’re blessed here at Louisville to have close to 9,000 season ticket holders so we have people that care about women’s basketball.

“You’ve got to be able to go out in this community and then perform on the floor, and then NIL takes care of itself.”

Walz said that Louisville has had role players who receive NIL opportunities because they’re active in the community and the fan base loves them.

“The businesses love their image, what they stand for, that they do exceptional,” he said. “So all because you scored 30 points a night doesn’t mean you’re going to bring in the most amount of money.

“And I think that’s our job as coaches and as departments to make sure these kids are educated and understand the process.”