NIL: Impacting Bucknell and beyond

Kaylee Donnelly, Contributing Writer

In the past, regardless of talent or popularity, student-athletes were unable to use their own name, image and likeness in any for-profit opportunities. Last June, this changed. NIL guidelines now allow student-athletes to harness their personal name, image, and likeness in order to collaborate with different brands, campaigns, companies and media, allowing student-athletes the chance to strike deals and profit from their own name and image. 

In the wake of this announcement, one of the University’s own student-athletes decided to use this opportunity to support a good cause. Chris Cannizzaro ’22, a senior on the Bison baseball team, became a student-athlete ambassador for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

Founded in the wake of 9/11, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation honors firefighter Stephen Siller, who sacrificed his life in order to help others during the attack on the Twin Towers. The foundation aims to provide mortgage-free homes to families who have members in the service, as well as honoring the military, veterans and first responders who have fought and continue to fight for our nation. Their goal is to make sure that the new generations of Americans “never forget” the effort put forth by these heroes. 

Cannizzaro, one of only four student-athletes named to the inaugural T2T Student-Athlete Advocates team, has a personal connection to the cause.

“It means the world to me to be able to be involved with the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. My father was a fireman who worked at Ladder 101 in Red Hook, Brooklyn and was a first responder to the attacks on 9/11. Unfortunately he lost his life that day, but I try my best to carry out his legacy every single day. Being a part of this amazing foundation allows myself along with the rest of the athletes involved to spread their message and make sure the world never forgets our heroes,” Cannizzaro said. 

Cannizzaro’s involvement with this cause constitutes just one of many student-athletes who have taken advantage of the new opportunities presented by NIL ownership. 

“We have already seen tons of student athletes benefiting from the new NCAA rules regarding NIL. For those at bigger schools in the Power 5 conferences, some athletes have reported agreeing to almost seven figure deals,” Cannizzaro said. This is accurate; for-profit opportunities, particularly brand deals, have allowed athletes at several universities across the country to receive large amounts of compensation for their name, image, and likeness. “For athletes at smaller schools like myself, it gives me an opportunity to partner with an organization that represents something I have a personal connection to and deeply care for,” Cannizzaro said. 

Though not the only student-athlete at the Bucknell that has taken advantage of the new law, Cannizzaro’s dedication to using his NIL to support a good cause is admirable.

Name, image and likeness laws are still being worked on as the NCAA and state governments handle the influx of student-athletes utilizing their opportunities. It may be a while until concrete laws are spread nationwide; however, it will be interesting to see the amazing opportunities awarded to these student-athletes in the future.

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