Razorback Wide Receiver Trey Knox Inks Landmark Deal with PetSmart

College athletes can now profit from their name and likeness under a new NCAA policy.

UA WR Trey Knox and his Husky Blue

The NCAA has adopted an interim policy that gives college athletes the opportunity to benefit from their name, image and likeness. The policy went into effect Thursday. 

The same day, University of Arkansas wide receiver Trey Knox announced a partnership deal with PetSmart, the first such collaboration between a college athlete and the company. The social-focused partnership pairs Petsmart with Knox and his Husky, Blue, according to a press release. 

“I have always been proud to be a student-athlete and an Arkansas football player, but I am just as proud to be a dog dad to Blue,” Knox said. “It was a clear fit to work alongside PetSmart in this game-changing opportunity showcasing my love of Blue and how PetSmart fills all her needs.”

Under the new NCAA policy, individuals can engage in NIL activities consistent with the law of the state where the school is located. College athletes who attend a school without an NIL law can also engage in this type of activity without violating NCAA rules related to name, image and likeness.

“This is an important day for college athletes since they all are now able to take advantage of name, image and likeness opportunities,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said. “With the variety of state laws adopted across the country, we will continue to work with Congress to develop a solution that will provide clarity on a national level. The current environment — both legal and legislative — prevents us from providing a more permanent solution and the level of detail student-athletes deserve.”

Arkansas legislators approved a new law in April that allows Arkansas college athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness. In May, the University of Arkansas announced the launch of Flagship, a multifaceted program aimed at helping students capitalize on the new NIL legislation. Act 810 goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

While the new policy opens name image and likeness opportunities to student-athletes, NCAA officials said rules against pay-for-play and improper encouragements tied to choosing to attend a particular school remain in effect. 

“The new policy preserves the fact college sports are not pay-for-play,” said Division II Presidents Council chair Sandra Jordan, chancellor at the University of South Carolina Aiken. “It also reinforces key principles of fairness and integrity across the NCAA and maintains rules prohibiting improper recruiting inducements. It’s important any new rules maintain these principles.”

The temporary policy will remain in place until federal legislation or new NCAA rules are adopted. With the NIL interim policy, schools and conferences may choose to adopt their own additional policies.