WWE is returning to college campuses this fall.
Now part of TKO Group Holdings, WWE is bringing back its “Campus Rush” campaign with plans to visit seven Division I schools in search of the next generation of wrestling stars. At each tour stop, WWE wrestlers including Big E, Bianca Belair, Omos, Riddick Moss and Raquel Rodriguez will meet with college athletes to educate them on the business.
Athletes will also receive education on WWE’s “Next in Line” NIL program and the path to becoming a professional wrestler. The WWE unveiled its third group of college athletes joining its NIL program back in January.
Since the inception of Campus Rush last October, the campaign has made stops at Ohio State, Duke and Oklahoma. The tour visited Texas last week and will visit six more schools from five different conferences this fall:
- Wisconsin – Wednesday, Sept. 27
- Pitt – Monday, Oct. 2
- Washington – Wednesday, Oct. 4
- Maryland – Tuesday, Oct. 17
- Missouri – Monday, Oct. 23
- TCU – Tuesday, Nov. 14
The caravanesque tour will conclude in December at Sports Business Journal’s Intercollegiate Athletic Forum in Las Vegas.
WWE’s NIL program continues to grow
WWE’s “Next In Line” program has signed 46 student-athletes to NIL deals since its inception in 2021, including its first signee, Olympic wrestling gold medalist Gable Steveson. The former Minnesota wrestler announced in July he wouldn’t be returning for a final season, instead taking his talents to WWE’s NXT.
The first class also included two of the biggest stars of NIL, former Miami women’s basketball players Hanna Cavinder and Haley Cavinder. The twins still have a relationship with WWE and have made appearances at a number of events.
WWE says the program serves to recruit and develop potential future superstars and further enhances the company’s talent development process through collaborative partnerships with college athletes from diverse athletic backgrounds. WWE has signed athletes from 13 different sports including 35 members of Power Five conferences who have collectively earned 40 NCAA All-American Honors and 12 NCAA National Championships.
All athlete partnerships feature access to the company’s state-of-the-art performance center in Orlando, Florida, 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, WWE says select athletes may earn an exclusive opportunity to be offered a contract.