There’s no secret that Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) has changed the landscape of college athletics. From athletes to the businesses looking to provide from guiding athletes financial futures. One said company, Big League Advance (BLA), has done exactly that.
Their roster of players include MLB Reds shortstop Elly De La Cruz, Marlins second baseman Jazz Chisholm amongst others. While their football roster includes Eagles first round pick linebacker Nolan Smith and Bengals first round pick Myles Murphy.
Big League Advance provided financial support for their players while they’re in college or the developmental leagues. However, BLA would recoup their money from a players future earnings once they have reached the pro league. If a player does not make it professionally, he or she does not owe anything to BLA.
BLA’s strategy seems fool proof and a very simple strategy. Give money to a high level player, and once he or she makes it to the league, BLA makes their profit.
Needless to say, not all NIL deals and financial assistance are equal. This is where Chicago Bears rookie defensive tackle Gervon Dexters lawsuit begins.
Gervon Dexter Lawsuit vs Big League Advance
Dexter, like the other college players on the BLA roster, signed a NIL deal with BLA. Dexter agreed to pay BLA 15% of his pre-tax earnings from the NFL for the next 25 years. In 2022, BLA paid Dexter over $436,000 in a one-time payment.
Recently, Dexter signed a four year $6.72 million rookie deal. Over the lifetime of the deal, BLA would receiver $1 million of that deal. However, Gervon Dexter has decided to sue BLA to notify the NIL deal.
Unlike other states at the time, Florida had an NIL law in place for college athletes to participate in the new opportunity. Athletes could sign deals with brands and companies for the use of their Name, Image, and Likeness. Although athletes could participate, the new law prevented NIL deals from going past an athletes time in college.
Meaning, the strategy BLA used to secure their profit from players once they made it to the league would be voided under 2020 Florida NIL law, Senate Bill 646.
The Florida law states “The duration of a contract for representation of an intercollegiate athlete or compensation for the use of an intercollegiate athlete’s name, image or likeness may not extend beyond her or his participation in an athletic program at a postsecondary educational institution.”
Furthermore, the bill requires that the NIL deal must be disclosed to the school he or she is enrolled to. BLA, and out of state LLC did not do either. Besides not contacting the athletic director of the NIL contract, BLA is not licensed in Florida either.
Although the Florida Law has been updated as recently as February, the contract was signed under the original law.
Needless to say, Dexter has a worthy case against Big League Advance. Many of the law makers who made NIL Law in Florida wanted to prevent “Predatory Loans.” As scary as it sounds, this is the dark side of the NIL era of college athletics. Ultimately, this lawsuit will set precedence for the future of NIL.