TALLAHASSEE, Fla – As players usher in a new era in college sport on Thursday with the chance to make money with their name, image and likeness for the first time, the Florida State quarterback McKenzie Milton and Miami quarterback D’Eriq King entered the market with a unique business partnership.
Just after midnight, Milton and King signed on as co-founders of Dreamfield, an NIL-based platform focused primarily on booking live events for student-athletes, including autograph signatures, meetings and speeches. Milton and King will be the public faces of Dreamfield and recruit other athletes to use the platform.
Additionally, Dreamfield plans to tackle the increasingly popular NFT (non-fungible token) market, with Milton on its first digital card auctioned on Tuesday. The Milton NFT is believed to be the first for an active college athlete. Plans are underway for King to make his NFT debut in late July.
“It’s an opportunity for me to step in the door to start being an entrepreneur, but it’s also something that fascinates me, helping varsity athletes monetize their name, image and likeness,” said Milton told ESPN.com. . “It should have been something that has been going on for a while, but now it’s here, and it’s a cool opportunity.”
Florida lawmakers were the first group to set a start date of July 1, 2021 for college athletes to enjoy their NIL. Nearly a dozen states have followed Florida’s lead and will have laws that go into effect on Thursday. The NCAA waited until Wednesday to officially pass rule changes that open up similar opportunities for all college athletes. The association has only offered very vague guidelines to schools in lawless states, leaving many athletic departments to scramble to develop their own policies on how to regulate and monitor their athlete’s offerings.
Student-athletes in states with legislation have at least been given a law-based framework and more time to prepare and start thinking about how to make money. This new era has led to the formation of multiple platforms that student-athletes can use to start leveraging their NIL. While players must still adhere to NCAA compliance rules that prohibit direct payment agreements, the focus on profitability has focused on autograph sessions, camps, local appearances, status of ‘Social media influencer and endorsement deal opportunities from a range of businesses and businesses.
Where Dreamfield wants to stand out is in the NFT arena. In this emerging tech market, an NFT is essentially a unique form of digital art that cannot be replicated and is purchased using cryptocurrency. Topps now offers NFT baseball cards. Patrick Mahomes and Rob Gronkowski released some very popular NFT cards in March. The Gronkowski ensemble has generated over $ 1 million in sales. In April, shortly after his college career ended, Luka Garza of Iowa started his own NFT which sold for $ 41,141 at auction.
Gronkowski series illustrator Black Madre teamed up with Dreamfield to create Milton’s NFT.
“NFT is creating a new way of looking at sporting collectibles,” Black Madre told ESPN.com. “It’s an exciting time. We were very lucky that our first NFT project was a huge success and it opened so many doors for us. McKenzie Milton’s NFT card was very special. During the process of creating this card, we’ve learned a lot about him. He’s truly an inspiration, and it’s been an honor to play a small part in telling his story. “
Milton offers a unique story. After leading UCF to an unbeaten season in 2017, Milton suffered a devastating knee injury in 2018 that nearly forced the amputation of his right leg. The quarterback has worked the past three years trying to replay, moving to Florida State in January in hopes of winning the starting job.
The NFT map shows its transformation, starting with a still image of Milton wearing black and gold, then changing to a Milton graphic wearing garnet and gold. The NFT also pays attention to the rules – only the colors of the UCF and Florida State teams are displayed. Florida players are not permitted to use school logos or other copyrighted material to earn money unless they have permission from the school. To make the NFT even more unique, Dreamfield plans to integrate a video message of the players appearing on the digital map. Dreamfield is set to auction 24 Limited Edition Milton NFTs, each serialized with a unique number in the collection, starting Tuesday.
“We want to be like the new Topps, or Stadium Club, of digital, because right now everyone who is doing NFTs, they’re not doing it under a brand, they’re doing it independently,” said Luis Pardillo, one of the founders of Dreamfield and its CEO. “So I think there is an opportunity to put everything under an umbrella and really drive it.”
UCF graduate Pardillo met Milton while he was still at UCF and asked for his thoughts on NIL before Dreamfield was formed. Pardillo eventually teamed up with fellow UCF graduate Andrew Bledsoe and Aaron Marz. As they built their business, they decided it made sense to offer Milton equity capital once July 1 arrived, to show that their business had the best interests of student-athletes in mind.
Milton brought King on board. The two have formed a close relationship since their time at the American Athletic Conference (King was in Houston before moving to Miami). The idea of the NFT particularly appealed to King.
“We are entering a new era of technology that allows sports trading cards to move from the physical to the digital realm, and I am proud to be at the forefront of this change,” King said in a statement to ESPN. .com. “To be one of the first varsity athletes in history to create a high-quality NFT in my image is a dream come true, and helping other athletes to be remembered in digital art through Dreamfield is one of the main reasons I helped start this business. “
Although King and Milton now play for rival schools, their quest to help the fight to make the NIL a reality allows them to share a common cause.
“We’re trying to do something bigger than us,” Milton said. “It’s about standing up for the names of all these athletes, and it’s bigger than sport. It’s about creating a platform. It’s about using your name, being able to help you, to help your families, help your team. We have been handcuffed for so long, but now this gives us the opportunity to expand our toolkit not only as athletes, but as men in the field. ‘business, entrepreneurs and all kinds of stuff. So I think it will be great for varsity athletes to continue to explore new things that capture our interest. “