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Nike enters NIL race through deal with Stanford’s Charles Hicks

Charles Hicks
Photo credit: Stanford Athletics

Another sportswear giant has added an elite athlete to their roster of NIL signees. 

Charles Hicks, a Stanford junior and the reigning NCAA cross-country champion, has agreed to a NIL deal with Nike, according to an announcement made on his YouTube channel.  

“It’s one of the craziest things that’s ever happened to me,” Hicks said in the video. “I’m so over the moon about it, I can’t even express it…To be a part of the Nike brand now is just unbelievable. It’s a dream come true.” 

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The deal is another sign of the changing tide for college sports, and particularly track and field.  

In previous years, elite runners who signed an endorsement contract with Nike (or another company) would be considered professional, thus forcing them to forgo the remainder of their college eligibility. 

The NIL era presents an alternative opportunity for major brands to associate themselves with leaders in the sport, while keeping the door open for affiliation at the professional level. Hicks has two more years of college eligibility in cross-country.  

Katelyn Tuohy, a star at North Carolina State, announced an agreement with Adidas three days after taking the 2022 women’s cross-country title in November. 

Like most NIL deals, the specific terms and value have not been made public. Hicks shared that the contract contains “social, digital, and in-person engagement obligations” with Nike, which also sponsors Stanford athletics.  

According to an agent familiar with similar NIL deals, Hicks’ agreement could be worth between $50,000 and $100,000 per year, Runner’s World reported. 

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Hicks told Runner’s World that opportunities have begun to “materialize a lot quicker” now that Flynn Sports Management, the agency that represents him, has been approved by Stanford and cleared by the state. 

“The NIL space is so new and unexplored that it’s pretty difficult to pin down concrete reasons for why things happen, though I’d imagine winning nationals didn’t hurt my résumé,” Hicks said. 

In that race, Hicks managed to edge Nico Young, a standout runner for Northern Arizona. With more than 55k followers on Instagram, more than double that of Hicks, Young is among the most popular distance runners on social media.