Irving-based Epsilon lures women’s March Madness athletes to NIL deals

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Epsilon is joining the name, image and likeness craze that’s taken over collegiate athletics. The Irving-based marketing and branding company is offering all 930 athletes involved in the women’s March Madness tournament the opportunity to partner with Epsilon.
Since the tournament started, more than 300 women’s basketball athletes have signed on to the company’s NIL deal, notching $500 and career-building resources in the process. At least one athlete from 65 of the 68 teams in the tournament have opted into it.
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The deal requires athletes to make a social media post showing a moment that captures teamwork. It’s part of the company’s “Work Together to Win Together” campaign, which Epsilon has been building up to for months, said Melissa Gray, Epsilon’s senior vice president of communications and analyst relations.
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“Not every college athlete has the same opportunity as their peers. So we thought it was important to recognize and offer this opportunity to every athlete that’s worked hard to get here,” she said. “With the timeliness of the popularity of women’s sports, it’s been great to see so much participation already.”
Big names like Iowa’s Caitlin Clark, Louisiana State’s Angel Reese and dozens more are behind the booming popularity of women’s college basketball and its potential is only beginning to take off. Television viewership on average is up 37% since last year and 13 regular season games recorded at least 500,000 viewers, according to ESPN.
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Though Epsilon isn’t offering this deal solely because of the sport’s growth, it certainly didn’t hurt its case, Gray said.
“I think there’s just so much energy and momentum around women’s basketball right now. All the pieces have just lined up and it feels like the right opportunity at the right time,” she said. “With it being Women’s History Month too, it felt like the right moment to do this.”
Epsilon has managed to wrangle names like the University of Connecticut’s sophomore forward Ayanna Patterson and the University of Southern California’s freshman guard Malia Samuels to sign onto the company’s deal.
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The Lone Star State also has some representation in the deal. Though the 16-seed Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi couldn’t pull off a legendary upset against the number one seed, USC, Epsilon signed on two of the Islanders’ players, junior guard Tymberlin Criswell and sophomore guard Jaeda Whitner.
Epsilon also has representation from teams still in the tournament in Baylor University. A pair of forwards, graduate Dre’una Edwards and senior Madison Bartley, both signed onto the company’s deal.
With not every college athlete going pro, Epsilon is also hoping to create a soft pipeline for former athletes to work for the company one day, Gray said.
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“There’s that $500 cash opportunity and that’s great. But a lot of athletes later in their careers may be thinking about transitioning into a full-time career after college,” she said. “So it would be great if this creates a way for them to join our company. We already have a lot of former athletes on our team, so they’d fit in perfectly.”
The campaign and NIL deal opportunity will be available to all athletes until the end of the tournament. But Epsilon is hoping to keep opportunities like these available to more athletes in the future, Gray said.
“This is our first foray into this but seeing how successful this has been so far, I think it’s a great indicator of more things to come from us in the future around NIL,” she said. “This is the beginning of an opportunity for us and athletes, and I only hope that we help open a door or two with this.”

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