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UCLA women’s basketball guard Kiki Rice signs NIL deal with Jordan Brand

Freshman Kiki Rice anticipates the reveal of the shoes for her teammates after announcing to the program that she is partnering with Jordan Brand, the first college athlete to land an NIL deal with that company. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

By Leila Bivins

Oct. 31, 2022 11:05 a.m.

This post was updated Nov. 1 at 9:53 p.m.

After practice, the UCLA women’s basketball team circled up in the center of the court as if it were any other day.

But then, coach Cori Close told her squad that freshman guard Kiki Rice had a special announcement for the team.

Rice said she had a surprise for her teammates and instructed them to check out the locker room for the big reveal – a stack of Jordan shoe boxes awaiting the Bruins at the center of the room.

Each player grabbed her box and, after a countdown, opened her new Jordans, which Rice had personally requested for all of her teammates, as the room echoed “Kiki” chants to celebrate Rice’s historic name, image and likeness deal with Jordan Brand.

(Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)
UCLA women’s basketball players celebrate the new Jordan shoes that Rice secured for her teammates as part of her historic NIL deal with Jordan Brand. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

Jordan Brand announced on Monday that it would be partnering with point guard Kiki Rice for its first ever collegiate NIL deal – making Rice the youngest athlete signed to Jordan.

“Growing up, Jordan was one of my favorites, if not my favorite brand, or shoe brands,” said Rice. “It’s really a dream come true. I’m thrilled to be signing with Jordan Brand because they not only align with me on the court, because of the style, … but it’s also just their mission in the community.”

The NCAA began allowing college athletes to profit from their NIL on July 1, 2021. Since this policy was enacted, college athletes across the nation have partnered with a variety of brands allowing them to profit from social media posts, commercials, appearances and a multitude of other activities outside of their sports.

“There’s a really good part of NIL that was actually overdue,” Close said. “To watch women especially to be able to have the opportunity for entrepreneurship, and to learn about building their own business and building their own brand. Being able to be a contributor on that front, I think that’s awesome.”

Rice has attracted national attention for her skills on the court after winning Gatorade Female High School Athlete of the Year, Morgan Wootten National Player of the Year, Naismith High School Player of the Year honors and co-MVP of the McDonald’s All-American game during her senior year of high school.

“Kiki has earned the opportunity to represent a great brand like Jordan Brand, and she deserves to be compensated to that extent,” Close said. “This particular event speaks so much to her heart and character that none of this was my idea.”

 

Rice’s gift to the team was entirely the result of her advocacy and communication with Jordan Brand. After the Bruins collected their shoes, more shoeboxes were scattered at the center of the locker room. Rice not only personally requested gear for all of her teammates, but for all of her support staff as well.

“It was extremely important,” Rice said. “I’m just super grateful to be able to recognize them because a lot of times, our support staff don’t get nearly as much recognition for all the work they do behind the scenes.”

(Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)
A pair of Jordan Brand shoes sitting on display atop its box. Rice signed an NIL deal with Jordan Brand and gifted the Bruins and their supporting staff new Jordans after the announcement. (Joseph Jimenez/Assistant Photo editor)

Rice found it important to not only recognize her team and support staff but also to be a role model for young female athletes. According to Opendorse, 67.4% of NIL compensation is allocated to male athletes, as opposed to female college athletes with only 32.6%.

“It’s a huge milestone for me, especially to be a female,” said Rice. “There’s so many young female athletes out there that are struggling in their sport or aren’t necessarily encouraged to continue. But I think it’s just me being able to be the first Jordan Brand NIL athlete should be something that other people look up to, and I hope it motivates other young girls.”

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Leila Bivins | Sports contributor
Bivins is currently a Sports contributor on the men's volleyball beat.
Bivins is currently a Sports contributor on the men's volleyball beat.
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