New NIL Deal Provides Flights for the Families of Student Athletes

Last Updated on December 28, 2022

The Grove Collective, The Brandr Group and Wheels Up, an on-demand private aviation company, announced an NIL deal today that will reward Ole Miss student athletes for giving back to their local community by providing them with commercial travel opportunities for their loved ones to attend their games.

Ole Miss Student Athletes Myah Taylor (Women’s Basketball), Sasha Ratlif (Women’s Volleyball), Jaxson Dart (Football), Hunter Elliot (Baseball), Quinshon Judkins (Football), TJ McCants (Baseball) and Matthew Murrell (Men’s Basketball) will help support Meals Up, a program supporting Feed America that was created by Wheels Up in 2020 to help relieve food insecurity during the pandemic.

In total, there will be up to 15 Ole Miss student-athletes named to work with and promote the Meals Up charity platform that benefits Feeding America in North Mississippi. However, all of athletes who enter NIL deals with The Grove Collective will have the option of having part of their compensation in the form of flight credits, which will be with Delta through Wheels Up. Currently, there are approximately 130 athletes who’ve entered deals with the collective.

Walker Jones, Executive Director of The Grove Collective, says they expect to sign closer to 200 athletes in the coming months. Most of their NIL deals are annual, based on the calendar year, so athletes will have the option to add flight credits as part of their compensation starting in January.

The Wheels Up deal marks the first deal from The Grove Collective and The Brandr Group partnership which is focused on creating national and local student-athlete NIL group deals co-branded with the University. The Wheels Up program provides The Grove Collective the opportunity to offer commercial airfare in student-athlete NIL deals to use for family travel to home and away games.

“This is an exciting and transformative partnership that will create opportunities for athletes’ parents and family members to attend games and see their loved ones in person through Wheels Up’s commercial airline partner. More so, we’re honored to be the first Collective to partner with Wheels Up in this historic deal.” said Jones. “With the charitable impact and awareness these athletes can bring to food insecurity through Feeding America, the compensation the athletes receive, and providing Ole Miss student athletes with the benefit of commercial air travel for their loved ones, this is NIL at its best.” 

Jones notes athletes will get to decide whether flight credits are part of their compensation package. For example, athletes with family nearby in Mississippi and neighboring states will be less likely to opt in compared to athletes from further reaches of the country.

Wheels Up Chairman and CEO Kenny Dichter says the deal helps develop student athletes as leaders in their communities while rewarding them with the opportunity to build new memories with their own families.

“As part of our ongoing Meals Up charity initiative, we’re thrilled to partner with The Brandr Group and The Grove Collective to usher in the next generation of philanthropists to help support Feeding America and continue to fight food insecurity in the United States,” said Wheels Up Chairman and CEO Kenny Dichter. “This is an industry-leading partnership and unique way to engage with college athletes while providing them with an outlet to give back to the local community, along with providing memories for the student families attending various games through the program.” 

“Today’s announcement shows that The Grove Collective and Wheels Up are two forward-thinking entities who are looking to create new, meaningful opportunities for student-athletes.  We hope this program can grow within The Grove Collective and ultimately across the country with other Collectives.” said Chris Marciani, The Brandr Group.

As part of the partnership, The Grove Collective will receive preferential pricing discounts through Wheels Up on the Delta flight credits included in athlete compensation packages.

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