NIL deals

World No. 1 amateur Rose Zhang becomes first student-athlete to sign NIL contract with Adidas

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World No. 1 amateur Rose Zhang became not only the first college golfer, but the first student athlete to sign an NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) deal with Adidas. The announcement came Tuesday, just in time for the 19-year-old’s fourth U.S. Women’s Open appearance. Last week the Stanford freshman also added an NCAA individual and team championship at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale to her lengthy junior and amateur golf resume.

Adidas’ announcement with Zhang is just the beginning of a new phase of NIL deals that the brand will be rolling out. A cohort of women competing in multiple different sports will follow as the next additions to Adidas’ venture into college athletics. Zhang will wear Adidas gear on the course and in training, whenever she is not representing Stanford, as the university has a contract with Nike. Additionally, the two-time AJGA player of the year will be featured in Adidas marketing campaigns for golf apparel and footwear.

“Adidas has been a major part of some of my biggest wins as an amateur, so this is an exciting moment for me,” said Zhang. “I’m most comfortable wearing the 3-stripes on the course and can’t wait for what’s ahead.”

Zhang’s partnership with Adidas is not her only sponsorship deal. The 19-year-old has taken advantage of the new NCAA regulations that allow student athletes to profit from partnerships while maintaining their amateur status and college athletics eligibility. Zhang partners with Callaway, Amundi Asset Management, Uswing Sunglasses, Paradox, and Beats by Dre.

Earlier this month, Zhang’s teammate and No. 4 ranked amateur, Rachel Heck, became the first Nike Golf NIL athlete. The news surrounding both Heck and Zhang’s contracts signifies an exciting effort from large sportswear companies to elevate women’s athletics and women’s golf through NIL contracts.