Jalen Cropper is the latest Fresno State athlete to participate in a commercial for Fresno First Bank under new rules for collegiate athletes profiting from their name, image and likeness (NIL). Fresno First Bank image
Written by Ben Hensley
Since the Supreme Court’s decision in 2021 allowing collegiate athletes to profit off of their name, image and likeness (NIL), Fresno First Bank has partnered with a variety of Fresno State athletes, featuring them in commercials for their business.
Athletes including former Fresno State softball player Hailey Dolcini, former Fresno State basketball star Orlando Robinson, and most recently, Fresno State football wide receiver Jalen Cropper have all participated in commercial shoots for Fresno First Bank, helping the student athletes not only gain name recognition, but collect some much-needed spending money while doing so.
Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, athletes were restricted from profiting off of their NIL, even going as far as to restrict many athletes from seeking employment during the season and even during the offseason.
With expanded competition and many sports expecting year-round participation, with football camps beginning in the spring for many schools, restrictions on time are just as big an issue for many student athletes as financial struggles.
“If they’re on scholarship, there’s a fixed amount of money that they get as a stipend each month,” Miller said. “That handles food and living expenses and things like that.”
Athletes who are interested in participating in NIL deals are given the option of representing themselves or hiring an agent to represent them.
Businesses like Fresno First Bank, who sign student athletes to NIL deals, help supplement cost of living expenses in an economy already suffering from inflation and rising cost of living expenses.
“For most athletes, this would just be a stipend to kind of offset some of those living expenses,” Miller added.
For players who partner with Fresno First Bank, it is a one-time payment based on their participation in commercials.
“We have a lot of fun with it,” he said. “This is one of the angles that we take of just having fun as bankers and really enjoying a pretty cool phenomenon that took place in the country.”
Commercials with several athletes have already gained national attention.
Collective deals, allowing businesses and individuals alike to support athletes, aim to give all athletes a chance to profit off their NIL.
Collective groups, like Oklahoma State’s “Pokes with a Purpose” and University of Oregon’s “Division Street,” provide a fund for student athletes who participate in NIL deals.
Fresno State will have its own collective group, “Bulldog Bread,” expected to launch in early September.
“There’s a separate entity outside of the school that’s created, either a for profit or a nonprofit, that people can donate money into,” he said. “That money goes back to the athletes to get them to participate in stuff like this.
However, Miller says there is a lot of participation needed to maintain a collective that is able to have the ability to supplement all student athletes.
“I’ll be honest, for Fresno State, we need a lot more people to participate in it if we’re going to stay competitive,” he said. “We kind of have to stay ahead of the game and be creative, so hopefully more people do it.”
For student athletes, there is a compliance requirement to be filled out by the athlete and submitted to the school. Once that is completed, Miller says it’s very much between the student athlete and the business they are partnering with.
Miller says the positive side of NIL deals locally is reflected by the community foundation around Fresno State athletics.
“We really need to take it seriously and rally around the school,” he said.