DeKalb, IL — After the NCAA ruled in June that student-athletes can profit off the use of their name, image and likeness, Ky’Wuan Dukes, a wide receiver at Johnson C. Smith University, became the first HBCU athlete to sign an endorsement deal with Bojangles.
Bojangles said Dukes was a "natural fit" for the company, citing his North Carolina roots. Dukes, however, said the opportunity was nothing short of a blessing.
“It was definitely a great idea, (the) rule change,” Dukes said, according to Blavity. “I feel like that rule opens up a lot of opportunity for student-athletes financially and with exposure of helping build their brand, name, or whatever they’re trying to pursue. I appreciate the NCAA for letting that take place.”
Dukes said he was scrolling on Instagram and noticed a public relations company called VayneSports, who represents athletes, reached out to him.
Hercy Miller, the son of hip-hop mogul Percy “Master P” Miller, signed a $2 million endorsement deal following the NCAA rule change in June. Students from Jackson State University, Norfolk State University and Alabama A&M have also signed endorsement deals.
Dukes said these opportunities will assist students whose families are struggling financially and are unable to provide for the athletes.
“It’s definitely a big help,” Dukes said, according to HBCU Buzz. “Students that have parents that aren’t fortunate and don’t have things..now they can do it for themselves. This is definitely a good thing to happen for us.”