The NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) deals have changed the landscape of college basketball forever. What once was a multibillion-dollar business founded on free student labor is now an industry that has begun to share the wealth with those who generate it. Companies can now partner with college athletes and help them profit from the attention they bring to their schools, and the JBL brand has gone above and beyond to support student-athletes through their nationwide JBL Campus program.

Jace Howard and Laila Phelia are two such athletes. Currently playing for the Michigan Wolverines men’s and women’s basketball teams respectively, JBL has partnered with them to help them get their head in the game both on the court and in the classroom. We got the pleasure to speak to the two of them about working with JBL and the importance of NIL deals.

BLAC: How did you feel when you first were informed that JBL wanted to work with you?

Laila: As a lifelong fan, having their products at home and on the road, it felt amazing to have a brand like JBL reach out to partner with me. This opportunity is a testament to the hard work I’ve put into my profession.

Jace: JBL is such a popular brand in the athletic world and I was so excited to find out that JBL wanted to partner with me. It’s a great opportunity to align myself with a company that values excellence and innovation, just like I do. Working with JBL has been an amazing experience so far, and I’m grateful for the chance to collaborate with such a well-known brand.

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BLAC: What’s something you’ve been enjoying about your partnership?

Jace: As an athlete, having access to high-quality audio that enhances my training and performance is invaluable. JBL’s products have helped me stay focused and motivated. Plus, being a part of the JBL family has connected me with other athletes who share my passion for sports and audio. It’s been great all around and I’m just excited to see where this partnership takes me in the future.

Laila: I love being able to enhance the fan experience! Whether it’s through incorporating their audio into my training routines or collaborating on exciting events, it’s been incredible to see how our partnership is bringing something fresh and exciting for our fans.

BLAC: As a student athlete, how much does it mean to you for companies like JBL to support you through NILs?

Jace: NIL partnerships validate my efforts on and off the field, showing that my dedication is noticed and valued by respected brands like JBL. This partnership amplifies my voice and provides a platform to inspire others. The JBL partnership helps me make a positive impact beyond the game.

Laila: JBL has made me feel valued and recognized which is a great feeling because I put a lot of hard work into my sport. Knowing that cool brands are willing to invest in me is so motivating and empowering.

BLAC: What would you say to those who disapprove of NILs?

Laila: NIL is a great opportunity for athletes to get paid while playing sports. For the people out there that do not approve of NIL I find that hard to wrap my head around because athletes are working hard day in and day out along with excelling in academics. Athletes do not have time on their plate to have a job so NIL gives athletes that opportunity to capitalize on this opportunity while in college.

Jace: What I would say to those that disapprove of NIL is to take some time to do some research on how NIL is helping college athletes and their families along with helping student athletes build financial literacy. Both of those are things that college athletes haven’t been able to do now until NIL came about in July 2021.

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