East Tennessee influencers partner with UT athletes in NIL deal

John Fulkerson signed with Bridge Management Group.
Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 6:00 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The worlds of NCAA sports and social media influencers are colliding as the NCAA has approved athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness.

Life in the public eye is nothing new for University of Tennessee basketball player John Fulkerson.

“There’s always a lot of eyes on UT athletes and the way you carry yourself is really important,” he said.

New name, image and likeness rules allowed by the NCAA are letting athletes see money-making opportunities through a new lens.

“This has changed everything and I think for the better,” said Fulkerson.

On top of an already jam-packed schedule of class, practice and games, finding time to manage his brand can feel like another full-time responsibility.

“Win games, make good grades and graduate with that degree, that’s their full-time job and so with us, what we hope we can do is help guide them and make this secondary piece easy,” said Brittany Williams, co-founder and co-owner of Bridge Management Group.

Fulkerson has turned to help from someone else living in front of the camera, social media influencer and Love N’ Labels blogger Peyton Baxter and brand manager Brittany Williams. The sisters, also former college athletes, operate Peyton’s Instagram account, with nearly three quarters of a million followers.

“When all the NIL started, essentially these athletes are coming into our world,” added Williams.

Williams and Baxter have teamed up for a new venture and launched Bridge Management Group. They became state-licensed sports agents, focused on helping athletes manage their image on social media, using their knowledge of working with top companies to find partnerships that boost athletes’ brands and fit their lifestyle.

“A lot of these athletes maybe have not read these public figure influencer contracts, some of these can be 20-30 pages long, this is what we do every day. We see things that we know what red flags in a contract but these athletes may not know what it means,” said Williams and Baxter.

Making it easier to show what these athletes stand for, stand out.

“I could go on and on about already the stuff I’ve learned from them that I wasn’t even aware of,” said Fulkerson. “I’m just really grateful and blessed to be in this position and being able to partner with people like this that truly want your best interest and share the same morals and values that you do.”

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