The GIST: Fresh off winning last week’s NCAA championship, Stanford’s Rose Zhang has another reason to celebrate. The golfer inked a name, image and likeness (NIL) deal with Adidas yesterday, making her the first student-athlete on the sportswear giant’s roster. Hole in one.
The details: Given Stanford’s agreement with Nike, Zhang’s deal with Adidas only exists outside of school events. That said, Adidas won’t have to wait for the world’s No. 1 amateur golfer to sport its iconic three stripes — she tees off tomorrow in the U.S. Women’s Open.
- Zhang’s endorsement with Adidas comes after signing with Excel Sports Management in February. The marketing agency has provided quick returns — Zhang now counts Beats by Dre, sports equipment manufacturer Callaway and asset management company Amundi as sponsors.
Zooming out: While endorsement dollars for LPGA Tour players are on the rise, women’s college golf rakes in just 0.2% of overall NIL compensation. However, Adidas’ and Nike’s recent moves in the space demonstrate the collegiate-level opportunities, even for brands with broader appeal (as opposed to companies that court wealthy audiences).
- Adidas’ decision to work with Zhang also spotlights how golf is growing. Girls made up 35% of junior golfers last year — up from just 15% in 2000 — and more than a quarter of them come from BIPOC communities. Inclusion for the win.