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TAMPA, Fla. — College athletes are finally able to earn money.

But not exactly how you may think, or for as much as you may think or by whom you may think.

As of this summer, college athletes can profit off their names, images and likenesses. And the landscape of college athletics will never be the same.

On the latest episode of our To The Point Already podcast, Spectrum Bay News 9's Rick Elmhorst and Roy DeJesus talk NIL pros and cons with Spectrum Sports’ Chris Torello and USF Atheltic Director Michael Kelly.

"It's pretty fun to see what we're getting," Torello said of some of the early NIL deals. "A lot of players are doing things like this is my brand - if you want to buy a shirt or buy a hat. Creating kind of their own personal lifestyle. (It's) just giving (the players) freedom."

Former Clearwater Central Catholic and Notre Dame lineman Dillan Gibbons used his NIL eligibility as a new transfer to the Florida State to help raise money for Timothy Donovan, a young man wheelchair-bound with limb issues. Gibbons initially wanted to start a gofundme to bring Donovan and his family to Tallahassee for the Sept. 5 Notre Dame-Florida State football game. 

But the gesture went viral and now has taken on even bigger goals as Gibbons is using his status to help the family raise funds for medical expenses. 

"For me, using NIL, I took a more strategic approach," Gibbons said. "Some people are making a lot of money for themselves and that's awesome. But what I'm trying to do is make a great impact on the whole Tallahassee region, all of college football and give people some type of inspiration to use NIL in a more positive way."

University of Miami quarterback D'Eriq King has certainly been busy since NIL went live on July 1.

He was among the first to sign a deal, inking a $20,000 endorsement with College Hunks Hauling Junk. Since then, King has signed deals for autograph signings, meet-and-greets and speaking engagements.

In August, King became the first college football player to sign a deal with the NHL's Florida Panthers. King will appear at games and on social media for the team and create digital content for the hockey club. Financial terms for that deal weren't announced.

“The whole NIL thing, I think it’s really good for college football,” King said last month at the Atlantic Coast Conference’s preseason football media days. “My thing was work with good companies. You can’t work with everybody. You want to work with companies that align with your core values. You don’t want to go out there and work with that company, that company, that company.”

University of South Florida Athletic Director Michael Kelly said he sees NIL as part of a natural evolution.

"There's been a lot of gradual shifts over the past 10 years," Kelly said. "I look at it as more of the modernization of what the college-athlete experience should be."


Spectrum Bay News 9 Anchor Rick Elmhorst sits down with the people that represent you, the people fighting for change and the people with fascinating stories to ask the hard questions.

To The Point Already will cover people, politics and issues from a Tampa Bay perspective every Wednesday.