WWE is launching a new program to offer a pathway to its roster for college athletes.
The new NIL (name, image, & likeness) program has been dubbed Next in Line. It builds on the NIL policy established by the NCAA in July 2021 that allows college athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness.
Under the Next in Line program, WWE will look to recruit and develop future stars by collaborating with college athletes and allow them access to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla. In addition, recruits will be able to utilize WWE resources such as brand building, media training, communications, live event promotion, creative writing, and community relations.
Upon completion of the NIL program, select athletes may earn an opportunity to be offered a WWE contract. The sports entertainment giant expects to announce its first class of NIL partnerships in the coming weeks.
“The WWE NIL program has the potential to be transformational to our business,” said Paul Levesque, WWE executive vice president of global talent strategy and development. “By creating partnerships with elite athletes at all levels across a wide variety of college sports, we will dramatically expand our pool of talent and create a system that readies NCAA competitors for WWE once their collegiate careers come to a close.”
In September, WWE announced its first NIL deal with heavyweight freestyle wrestler Gable Steveson (pictured above), who won a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The agreement allowed Steveson to return to the University of Minnesota for his senior season where he is defending his NCAA National Championship while beginning his training with WWE.