By Jennifer Roback
Former Gatorade Player of The Year turned the brand's first collegiate athlete, UConn's Paige Bueckers has been taking full advantage of the NCAA's new image and likeness policy.
On November 29, 2021, the 20-year-old Minnesota native announced a new partnership with Gatorade, and has become their first male or female collegiate athlete.
"I won National Gatorade Player of the Year in high school and that’s when our relationship kinda started. And now, to be an actual Gatorade athlete, it’s surreal to me. It’s amazing to me. It’s such a blessing and I can’t wait to get started," the point guard said in a video.
Jeff Kearney, the global head of sports marketing for Gatorade, added: "From her electrifying performances on the court to fueling change off of it, Paige exemplifies everything it means to be a Gatorade athlete.
"Partnering with her is a statement to the next generation of our continued commitment to women in sport."
The news of her historic deal comes just weeks after she announced a partnership with online marketplace and clothing reseller StockX, helping both companies advance their reach in the world of women's and collegiate sports.
At this time, details surrounding her endorsements remain unclear.
Bueckers is one of many female student-athletes to sign endorsement deals since the NCAA announced earlier this year that athletes could start benefiting from their name, image and likeness.
Since the rule passed in June 2021, other athlete endorsement deals have included:
University of Nebraska's Lexi Sun signed with Borsheims and REN Athletics to create a unique jewelry collection and sold-out custom-designed sweatshirt
South Carolina women’s basketball star Aliyah Boston signed with Bojangles
UConn basketball star Azzi Fudd and Georgia softball star Jaiden Fields signed with Chipotle to become their first-ever college athlete ambassadors
Jada Williams, a 16 year old UCLA commit, signed a multi-year deal with basketball equipment and sportswear company Spalding
"This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement at the time. "With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level."
Division II Presidents Council chair Sandra Jordan added: "The new policy preserves the fact college sports are not pay-for-play.
"It also reinforces key principles of fairness and integrity across the NCAA and maintains rules prohibiting improper recruiting inducements. It's important any new rules maintain these principles."