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Badgers QB Graham Mertz agrees to NIL deal with memorabilia company

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State Journal beat reporter Colten Bartholomew and columnist Jim Polzin welcome on Marquette sports law professor Matt Mitten to discuss the changes in college sports related to name, image and likeness. Mitten breaks down the history of anti-trust challenges at the NCAA level, how we got to this point, what challenges lay ahead for schools and student-athletes and the unintended consequences that NIL could cause. Colten and Jim wrap up the show discussing the end of Barry Alvarez’s tenure at UW and breaking down a busy month of recruiting for the Badgers football team.

University of Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz has been the program’s leading face in drawing sponsorships for his name, image and likeness (NIL), and he added one of the top names in sports memorabilia to his portfolio Wednesday.

Mertz, along with Miami quarterback D'Eriq King and Mississippi quarterback Matt Corral, announced exclusive deals with Panini America to sell signed memorabilia. A release from Panini said the company will organize public signings for Mertz and have signed products available for purchase on its website. 

Mertz is wearing a vintage Brett Favre Packers T-shirt in the video announcing the partnership — UW athletes can’t wear or use school logos in NIL activities without licensing them.

“NIL has created an opportunity for us to work with college student athletes in a new way. We are committed to working with these athletes under the new guidelines, ensuring they are compliant and maintaining the integrity of the college student athlete,” Panini America CEO Mark Warsop said in a statement. “We are excited to partner with these great players to grow their personal brands and connect them to their fans through autograph memorabilia and trading cards. Starting our relationship with these athletes under NIL is just the first step in what will be a very long partnership with us as these players compete on the collegiate football field and make their way to becoming athletes that play at the professional level.”

Since college athletes have been allowed to profit from NIL opportunities July 1, Mertz has debuted a clothing shop for personally branded T-shirts and other items and came to a deal to promote Raising Cane's, a chicken finger restaurant that opened a Madison location this summer.

The Badgers report for training camp Aug. 5.


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