WWE announces the inclusion of 15 additional college athletes who will join the company’s NIL (Name, Image & Likeness) program, called “Next In Line.™” The program exists to provide pathways from collegiate athletics to WWE.
The organization’s second “Next In Line” class includes student-athletes from 14 universities, 7 NCAA conferences, and seven sports, including the program’s first athletes from cheer & dance, gymnastics, volleyball, men’s basketball, and representation from an HBCU program.
The list of new participants includes:
- Ali Mattox: Cheer & Dance, from Ole Miss
- Case Hatch: Football, from Arizona State
- Chandler Hayden: Track & Field, from Tennessee
- Cohlton Schultz: Wrestling, from Arizona State
- Derrian Gobourne: Gymnastics, from Auburn
- Ericka Link: Volleyball, from Elon
- Keshaun Moore: Football, from Hampton
- Luke Ford: Football, from Illinois
- Maliq Carr: Football & Basketball, from Michigan State
- Mikala Hall: Basketball, from Central Michigan
- Rachel Glenn: Track & Field, from South Carolina
- Ruben Banks: Track & Field, from Arkansas
- Thunder Keck: Football, from Stanford
- Tyanna Omazic: Volleyball, from Miami
- Zachary Knighton-Ward: Wrestling, from Hofstra
WWE’s NIL program launched in December 2021. It serves to recruit and develop potential future Superstars, and further enhances WWE’s talent development process through collaborative partnerships with college athletes from diverse athletic backgrounds. “Next In Line” has signed 31 full-time college athletes since its inception and currently has 25 active athletes following the graduation of six inaugural members from the program.
All athlete partnerships will feature access to the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, and to resources across the organization including brand building, media training, communications, live event promotion, creative writing, and community relations. Upon completion of the NIL program, select athletes may earn an exclusive opportunity to be offered a WWE contract. All six athletes who graduated from the first class have either signed or are in discussion to join WWE on a full-time basis.
Four of the 16 initial members of WWE’s “Next In Line” program are nominated for awards at the inaugural NIL Summit including Olympic gold medalist Gable Steveson (University of Minnesota) for Male Athlete of the Year, Haley & Hanna Cavinder (University of Miami) for Female Athlete of the Year and Jon Seaton (Elon University) for the Hustle Award. Additionally, WWE is a finalist for Brand of the Year. The Summit takes place in Atlanta, Georgia from June 13th-15th.
WWE is a publicly traded global entertainment company. The company is committed to family-friendly entertainment on its television programming, premium live events, digital media, and publishing platforms. WWE’s TV-PG programming can be seen in more than 1 billion homes worldwide in 30 languages through world-class distribution partners including NBCUniversal, FOX Sports, BT Sport, Sony India, and Rogers.