Grant Frerking is a student athlete, and a student CEO. No surprise, he's now at the forefront of college athletes being able to make money off of their own name, image and likeness.
"Being on the leading edge of this, I want to show how it's done the right way, and I want to show how it's done the right way early on," said Frerking. "We have to preserve it. It can go down in a heartbeat."
Frerking, a wide receiver at the University of Tennessee, is also a small business owner. He started Metro Straw, a ground cover business specializing in pine straw, when he was a student at the Wesleyan School in Peachtree Corners. He still runs that business now from Knoxville.
Frerking is using that business acumen to spread the word about the new "NIL" rules in college sports. On July 1st, the NCAA started allowing college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. Previously, doing this would've cost athletes their amateur status. After some states began making their own rules allowing student athletes ways to make money, the NCAA opened the floodgates at the beginning of July.
The Wesleyan School alum emphasizes that we're just now learning all the ways these changes will affect college athletes. Money making opportunities might not come in the areas you expect, he says.
"It's not just autographs, camps, all that stuff," said Frerking. "It can be the next best toothbrush, the next best paper towel, the best dry fit t-shirt. You have a coaching search or big hire, there's always that media hype. Everyone's excited. We had that. Our goal is to carry that momentum and keep it going forward."
To that end, Frerking is starting a new business: GTF Enterprises. This entity will help connect student athletes with business opportunities, and offer assistance and expertise in the process.
Frerking says schools like Tennessee are educating their athletes on how to handle themselves, and things like contracts and taxes. He also wants to use GTF Enterprises to help athletes use their NIL rights responsibly.
"The elephant in the room, everyone doesn't want to see it turn into pay to play, go from school to school just because they have this guy in this town paying this for this engagement," said Frerking. "Enjoy being a college student, athlete, with all the experiences, but also be able to use your [name, image and likeness] to make money. That's when it'll be special. I don't want to compromise the portion of college football and what makes that so special."
Frerking is even putting his advertising budget where his mouth is, so to speak. He's paid several Tennessee teammates to promote his original business, Metro Straw, on their own social media accounts. This lets his teammates earn a little money, gains exposure for his company and shows other athletes how the new college football economy can work.