All Miami Hurricanes football players to get NIL deals from American Top Team – South Florida Sun-Sentinel – South Florida Sun Sentinel

South Florida Sun Sentinel

Jul 06, 2021 10:45 AM

Thank you for supporting our journalism. This article is available exclusively for our subscribers, who help fund our work at the Sun Sentinel.

A South Florida-based company is looking to rock the college football world in favor of the Miami Hurricanes through college sports’ new legislation regarding athlete name, image and likeness, which allows NCAA athletes to profit off endorsements.

Every University of Miami scholarship football player will be offered a $6,000-per-year endorsement deal by American Top Team, one of the nation’s top training academies for MMA fighters ,which has 44 licensed gyms — many of which are in South Florida, including its main academy in Coconut Creek.

Each of the Hurricanes’ 90 current scholarship players will be offered this $500-a-month contract to endorse American Top Team through their social media accounts, personal appearances and other marketing vehicles. If all 90 players accept, the total American Top Team investment could reach $540,000 in the first year.

American Top Team founder Dan Lambert is at the heart of the initiative. As a diehard Miami fan, the South Florida businessman created a marketing company, called Bring Back The U, that will recruit other companies to do the same.

Dan Lambert, who is offering NIL deals to all UM scholarship football players through his MMA training academies American Top Team, does the U symbol in front of his company logo.

Dan Lambert, who is offering NIL deals to all UM scholarship football players through his MMA training academies American Top Team, does the U symbol in front of his company logo. (Courtesy Dan Lambert)

“I’m a longtime fan. I love ‘Canes football, and I’ve always wanted to do something to help the team. Up to this point, really, the only options are to give money to the university,” Lambert told the South Florida Sun Sentinel about the push he’s making, which was first reported Tuesday morning by Rivals’ “When the NIL legislation came out, I was thinking, ‘Wow, that’s actually an opportunity to help players directly. These are the guys generating all these billions of dollars — and they get an education out of it — but education doesn’t buy them a pizza on the weekend, let them go on a date and go see a movie or help out their family a little bit on the side.

“These kids put in a lot of time and effort, and they generate a lot of money. So, when I saw it, I saw an opportunity to help these kids directly, which will certainly help the team and hopefully improve the product on the field, as well, selfishly from a fan perspective.”

Through Bring Back The U, Lambert is not looking to profit, but merely create an avenue for interested companies to follow suite and land deals with Miami football players.

“All dollars that it brings in are going to end up in the pockets of football players,” Lambert said. “I just figured the best way to kick it off was to get out and sponsor them all myself in Year 1, hopefully generate some publicity for it and open up some eyes to it and then go out and hit people up, saying, ‘Let’s build on that. Let’s do it every year, and let’s do it bigger every year.’ You see some schools say, ‘We’re DB U’ or ‘we’re Tight End U’ or ‘we’re Quarterback U.’ Let’s be NIL U.”

“He knows better than anybody that football isn’t forever,” Lambert said. “There’s no guarantees in life. Sometimes, you don’t get the pay back for all the work you put in. When I reached out and told him about it, he said, ‘I’m in, and I don’t want any money for it. Whatever I do, if you were going to pay me for my job, put it into the company and let all the money go through to the players.’”

MMA fighter Jorge Masvidal, who trains at American Top Team, will serve as an ambassador for the new company.

“We got something very special that we can do for these athletes, and that’s help them get to the next level,” Masvidal said in a promotional video from one of the gyms. “Never in their lifetime, have they been able to receive these sponsorships. Now, with Bring Back The U, we can sponsor these great athletes, win many championships, get the community together, go forward and do some amazing things. I am looking forward to all the local businesses reaching out. Let’s support these players. Let’s help them get to the next level.”

Said Lambert of Masvidal: “If you could draw a picture of 305, it’s Masvidal’s face. This guy is as Miami as it gets — born, raised, loves everything about Miami, loves the Hurricanes.”

Miami Hurricanes – The U Report Newsletter


Keep your eye on Hurricanes football, basketball and more throughout the year.

The contracts were drafted by Darren Heitner, who helped draft the state of Florida’s NIL legislation that went into effect on Thursday. Heitner, who also owns the popular Sports Agent Blog, has been in contact with UM and its compliance department.

“Now, it’s just a matter of reaching out, getting them in the hands of players, get them signed, see which ones want to take advantage of it and go,” Lambert said. “I reached out to the university, the athletic department when I had the idea just to tell them this is what I want to do. I want them to know — 100 percent, up front — last thing in the world we’re going to do is anything [against NCAA rules]. We’re not going to be some rogue outfit here, creating headaches for them. We’re going to hire the attorney that knows more about it than anybody in the country. We’re going to run everything by him. We’re going to get your blessing on everything. We want to be part of a solution here, not part of a problem.”

Lambert hopes that having South Florida businesses come forward evens the financial playing field for Miami, a small private institution, against other big state-funded public universities.

“College football is already a sport of haves and have nots,” he said. “Miami’s a huge business hub, and it’s a proud city. If we can get everybody together and take advantage of that and get some money in these kids’ pockets and support them, improve their lives and the product on the field, I think it puts Miami at a huge advantage.”