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Jazzy Jefferson’s journey with NIL deals

Tatum Mogck
Jazzy Jeferson ‘24 is the first Wofford athlete to receive an NIL deal. Jefferson partnered with Sully’s Steamers for her deal.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) recently began allowing Name Image and Likeness (NIL) deals for college athletes in 2021. Before the ruling, athletes were forced to choose between professional careers and collegiate sports. This issue most notably impacted female gymnasts.

Gymnasts often peak in their teenage years, meaning gymnasts used to have to make a choice between capitalizing on their athletic ability or pursuing collegiate training. They tended to have shorter careers because they were forced to make the choice. 

As stated in “The changing world of Simone Biles and US women’s gymnastics team,” a CNN article published in 2021, the story of Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast of all time, paints the picture of the evolving landscape of the NCAA. 

In 2015, a year before the Rio Olympics, Simone Biles turned down her full scholarship to UCLA and turned her career professional. With the new changes that the NCAA made to allow college athletes to make money off of NIL deals, the field of women’s gymnastics in the United States became a more mature crowd.

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In 2024, Wofford athletes are pursuing these new opportunities by entering Name, Image and Likeness deals while competing on the collegiate level. Jazzy Jefferson ‘24, Wofford track star from Knoxville, TN, has been pursuing these opportunities during her collegiate athletics career. 

For Jefferson, the 2021 NCAA ruling on NIL deals opened up profitable opportunities for her, as managing being a full-time student-athlete leaves little room for a job. 

“I saw (this change) as a great opportunity to gain profit off of my own name (and) to earn money through sponsorships and endorsements,” said Jefferson. “I also saw it as an opportunity that allowed me to capitalize on my athletic abilities to earn money while in college because being a student-athlete is time consuming and leaves little time to get a job.”

Jefferson began running soon after she began to walk at 3-years old. Starting her track career by competing in the 5-year old division, Jefferson has always been naturally gifted in the sport. 

“Track is something that has always come naturally to me and gave me the opportunity to stand out on my own. Growing up with older brothers who also played sports and succeeded in them, influenced me to be great at something as well, which drove my competitiveness,” said Jefferson. 

Though she had a natural aptitude for running, the sport has maintained its difficulty for Jefferson. In her sophomore year of college, Jefferson realized that the sport will never get easier. 

“Once I got rid of the mental block that it was tiring and difficult, and believed in myself that I can conquer difficult obstacles, my love for the sport grew even more, where I started to see better results,” said Jefferson. 

Jefferson is the true example of how competition and resilience spurs growth. She is constantly pushing herself in athletics by breaking personal records, school records and consistently placing in her events. Her strongest event is the 400 meters, but she also competes in the 200 meters, 4×100 meters and 4×400 meters.

She is a senior, but her drive has not faded. In the 2023- 2024 track season, Jefferson broke the college’s record for the 400 meters in the outdoor season opener, running a 54.63. Two weeks later, Jefferson shattered the record again, for the 400 meters. The Southern Conference named Jefferson the Athlete of the Week the second week of April.

In addition to athletics, Jefferson excels in academics. Jefferson, a sociology and anthropology major, has made the Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll several times, earning her spot on the list for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years. 

In early March, Jefferson acquired an NIL deal with Sully’s Steamers located in the Hub across the street from campus. Her successful athletic career makes her an ideal candidate for partnering with local businesses. 

Though this is the only NIL deal Jefferson is currently in, she hopes to acquire more. 

Currently, Jefferson plans on working at an IT Consulting Firm in Atlanta starting in the fall. However, if her running continues to improve, as has been the trend this season, Jefferson will consider the possibility of becoming a professional athlete. 

She is a dedicated student athlete, fueled by a passion to always be better. Whatever the future holds for Jefferson, she is destined to excel in what opportunities come her way. 

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Katie Kirk
Katie Kirk, Managing Editor
Government Major from Greenville, SC
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