‘Multiple’ UNM athletes strike marketing deals

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — More University of New Mexico athletes are having financial success with marketing deals. This comes as the national debate over paying college athletes hit a new level this week.

College athletes can make money off their name, image and likeness (commonly abbreviated NIL) as of last summer, though rules can vary by state. Across the country, many players are reportedly making tens of thousands of dollars, and some deals are even in the six-figure range.

UNM officials gave KOB 4 more details on Thursday on what their players have going on. An athletics spokesperson confirmed multiple players have marketing deals across three teams – men’s and women’s basketball and football.

At least two now-former Lobo basketball players have talked about them publicly. On the men’s team, Saquan Singleton has promotional tweets about deodorant and insurance. Jaedyn De La Cerda, a women’s hoops star, confirmed on Twitter a deal to rep a carwash.

Under New Mexico law, UNM officials and coaches can’t play any role in these deals, as men’s basketball head coach Richard Pitino pointed out Wednesday in a news conference when asked about bringing in new players.

“It’s kind of adapt or die, right, with everything. I don’t get involved in any of that. I don’t tell anybody any of that stuff,” Pitino said.

But he acknowledges players making money will help bring players to Albuquerque.

“The more opportunities locally that this community can provide, it’s going to impact our program,” Pitino said.

He said the university’s athletic department meets with the collective that helps athletes with these deals, though a UNM athletics spokesperson said the school is not going to make any of the deals public unless the athletes want them to be.

They said most deals are small – like publicizing a restaurant for free food or getting paid for autographs.

State Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, is a fan of the changes. He’s a former UNM football player and helped push the bill that allows these deals in New Mexico.

“I think the name, image licensing acts are extremely exciting and are really going to change college athletics moving forward, and really this is going to empower student-athletes,” Moores said. “These are billion-dollar industries. Coaches are making millions of dollars.”

Moores said, back in his playing days, his teammates were sleeping on each other’s couches because they didn’t have time to work a job.

“Pay for play” still isn’t allowed among NCAA athletes. Players have to do something for the money they’re getting.

For many, that raises questions on how enforcement will work.

On Thursday, a public disagreement continued between two well-known college football coaches, one accusing the other of buying players.