The name, image and likeness (NIL) issue in college sports is allowing athletes to make some extra cash. Badgers defensive lineman Matt Henningsen of Menomonee Falls is a player balancing the fine line between a little extra spending cash, and making sure his eligibility isn't affected.
"I didn't think I'd have that big of a name, image, or likeness, because I mean, you talk to guys like, you think of quarterbacks. Running backs," Henningsen says.
"I got contacted by Degree, which was crazy," Henningsen says. "I saw it and I was just like, that's a big company, right? That's a big name and I was super excited for that."
TMJ4's Lance Allan: "Are they playing off the stereotype, Matt, that defensive linemen are just big, sweaty animals?"
"I guess so," Henningsen says with a laugh. "I mean, maybe!"
Henningsen checks on making sure he's doing it the right way, and often.
"We're kind of just thrown into it," Henningsen says. "And we don't know the rules. I've been working so closely with compliance and things, to make sure I'm not breaking rules. Katie Smith, the director of compliance here, the assistant athletic director, I've been up in her office a couple times already. Shooting her texts on my phone. Trying to get things cleared with her to make sure I, my number one thing is I want to stay eligible. I make sure that I'm allowed to compete."
Henningsen is all for it.
"It seemed like everybody in the world could make money off their name except college athletes, right? Like, it's a weird rule to put on people to say that you can't make money for being you," Henningsen says.
But he cautions two things. One, he's not backing up the Brinks truck.
"I don't want to sign any deals no matter how much money they are, that takes a lot of time away from me being a football player and me being a student," Henningsen says. "Right? Me being a member of the Wisconsin Badgers, right? That's priority one."
And two - the words of Paul Chryst.
"We have one name, and that's the Wisconsin Badgers," Henningsen says. "The image is us playing football on television and likeness is people liking us because we win. Right? That's the most important thing."
It seems the name on the front of the jersey and helmet is still more important than the back.