Chicago Bears rookie Gervon Dexter is suing over a NIL deal he signed back in college, because it may have gone against Florida’s NIL law.
Supposedly, Dexter agreed to pay a firm 15 percent off his pre-tax NFL earnings for the next 25 years after getting a one-time payment of over $436,000 in 2022, when he was attending the University of Florida. This past June, he signed a four-year nearly $7 million contract with the Bears.
According to the deal he signed with Big League Advance Fund (BLA), Dexter now owes them about $1 million over the life of the deal because he supposedly gave them “perpetual, irreversible” rights to his name, image and likeness, along with providing BLA with such perks as attending NFL-sponsored events.
Florida NIL law states, “The duration of a contract for representation of an intercollegiate athlete or compensation for the use of an intercollegiate athlete’s name, image or likeness may not extend beyond her or his participation in an athletic program at a postsecondary educational institution.”
Florida State Rep. Chip LaMarca, who proposed the initial 2020 NIL legislation that allows college athletes in Florida to profit off their name, image and likeness, told ESPN that Dexter’s deal is a “predatory loan.”
Dr. Johari Shuck agrees with the state legislator. “That was my biggest concern about the NIL stuff. Sharks in the water trying to capitalize off [college athletes]. And I’m sure [Dexter’s] situation was not the first or the only. It’s just the one that we’ve heard about.”
We’ve known Shuck for several years. Her doctorate work at Indiana focused on college student athletes’ experiences, specifically Black athletes. Shuck’s work also included listening to taped interviews conducted by athletic historian John Richard Behee, who interviewed 28 Black University of Michigan athletes between 1969 and 1974 for his book “Hail to the Victors” (1974), which at the time was considered a pioneering study on race and athletes.
“His work was my guiding star,” recalled Shuck, who added that years later she finally got to meet him in person. Behee knew of her work, which surprised her, Shuck added.
“He was complimenting me on my work. I have been trying to find this man throughout my whole study. And last year…he approached me to help him,” she continued, with a study he is doing on Black female athletes. “Because I’m a Black woman, he thought that that would add more credibility.”
Shuck also has been a longtime advocate of college athletes getting paid. She thought NIL might be a step towards this. But it also has its drawbacks, she added.
Now the executive director of the Chicago-based Seneca Foundation, an organization that works with Black and Latino recent high schools graduates hoping to work in the tech industry, Shuck told us that when signing these NIL deals, college athletes must be better advised. If it is true that Dexter was duped into a bad NIL deal, that shows once again, the importance of fully protecting Black athletes on and off the field, she continued.
“Number one, I feel that schools need to be providing these kids with [legal advice support]. The school should take responsibility for helping educate these kids. Those are the concerns I’ve been having.”
Shuck wants to continue her work with young people to prepare them for life after sports by starting her own nonprofit organization. “One of the things that I want to do is develop a sports-medicine program for athletes. We have to let kids know, especially our [Black] kids that are so fixed on sports,” that there’s more.