The Florida Panthers could sign a quarterback soon. Or a center that plays basketball. Or a goalie who plays soccer.
Everything becomes clear.
The Panthers are the first team in the NHL, and they believe the first major U.S. professional sports team, to offer varsity athletes an opportunity to match them amid recent rule changes that allow varsity athletes to take advantage of their name, image and likeness.
Florida unveiled the plan on Wednesday, beginning the process of assessing the interest of athletes attending the university closest to where the Panthers play – primarily Miami and Florida Atlantic.
“Right now, at the very least, we understand who’s interested,” said Sam Doerr, Panthers chief strategy officer. “We’re really trying to figure out what schools, who they are, what program, what type of social media they follow, and then we’ll set guidelines internally on who will be eligible for the program.”
Doerr hopes the Panthers can close deals within the next four weeks. The team will value diversity, he said, and want to ensure that female athletes and those in Olympic sports are part of the program.
Final details on what will be involved are still being worked out, but the Panthers are currently planning to offer merchandise such as jerseys to varsity athletes who get signed up, along with the possibility of earning money. money from a “pretty robust social media marketing campaign,” Doerr said.
“They’ll likely be paid per post or per campaign,” Doerr said. “They will benefit from the post. It’s really about taking the existing infrastructure of social media influencer marketing and extending it to varsity athletes, but using a professional team as an extension of that.”
There are no NCAA hockey teams in South Florida, but there are many schools with club teams. It’s still unclear how, or if, the Panthers might involve some of these players in their sponsorship program.
“We are moving forward,” Doerr said. “I’ve already had a bunch of texts from people in Miami saying they have interested kids. I’m sure we’ll see the same from FAU and some of the other schools. So far, so good, and we’ll see where it goes. “