Gymnastics phenom's $680k move after groundbreaking NCAA rule change

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Olivia Dunne, pictured here in action for LSU gymnastics.
Olivia Dunne is cashing in on the NCAA rule change. Image: Instagram

American gymnastics sensation Olivia Dunne is cashing in on a recent NCAA rule change that no longer prohibits college athletes from selling the rights to their names, images, and likenesses (NIL).

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Board of Directors approved one of the biggest changes in the history of college athletics in July, clearing the way for nearly half a million athletes to start earning money based on their fame and celebrity without fear of endangering their eligibility or putting their school in jeopardy of violating amateurism rules that have stood for decades.

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“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said after the 'NIL' rule was changed.

The move effectively suspends NCAA restrictions on payments to athletes for things such as sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances. 

It applies to all three divisions or some 460,000 athletes.

One of the most high-profile athletes who is cashing in on the change is LSU gymnast Dunne, who has become a social media sensation with 1.3 million followers.

Dunne, who recently signed with WME Sports agency, took to Instagram this week to reveal her first exclusive brand partnership with activewear company Vuori, reportedly worth US$500,000 ($AU680,000).

“Dream come true! Excited to announce my exclusive partnership with Vuori,” she wrote on Wednesday.

Speaking to Forbes, Dunne revealed she's been inundated with requests from companies and brands wanting to work with her.

“This is my first exclusive brand deal I‘ve ever done, so I was trying to find a brand to work with that is authentic to me and that I would want to introduce to my audience to because they trust me,” she said.

“I don’t try to put any pressure on myself, and I don’t try to compare myself to other people. I’m kind of just going with the flow, and it’s very exciting.

“Right now it‘s all about trying to find a balance between school, social media and gymnastics. All them are top priorities in my life. 

"I think it’s really a special time right now with the NIL change, especially for women’s sports because there’s not a lot of professional leagues after college for women.

“Social media is always something that I’ve loved, and what I think is so great about the NIL rule change is that you can do whatever you love and make money off of it.”

Olivia Dunne, pictured here at the US Gymnastics Championships in 2018.
Olivia Dunne at the US Gymnastics Championships in 2018. (Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Olivia Dunne destined to become teenage millionaire

Entertainment lawyer Roy Maughan Jr believes Dunne, who also has over 4.4 million followers on TikTok, will inevitably earn millions.

“I know of a college football player from a small school who just signed for $2.4 million. It could happen,” he told The Daily Advertiser.

“Her reach as an athlete is what is impressive - five million on social media. The fact that she has that following, she can touch a lot of people. 

"She could endorse sports drinks, gymnastics wear, other clothes.”

Dunne was a member of the USA national gymnastics team in 2017 before heading to Louisiana State University earlier this year.

The NCAA will also allow athletes to enter into agreements with agents, although all athletes are expected to keep their school informed of any and all NIL arrangements. 

The NCAA said schools are responsible “for determining whether those activities are consistent with state law.”

with Associated Press

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