USC football player gets NIL deal with real estate fund

Caleb William’s endorsement of Hawkins Way Capital might be first of its kind in college sports

Caleb Williams (Getty / illustration by Ilya Hourie for The Real Deal)
Caleb Williams (Getty / illustration by Ilya Hourie for The Real Deal)

New USC quarterback Caleb Williams had inked endorsement deals for headphones, sportswear, a water brand and men’s accessories. Now he gets a game hug from Beverly Hills real estate investors.

The high-profile transfer from the University of Oklahoma to USC has signed a long-term agreement with Hawkins Way Capital, a Beverly Hills-based real estate private equity fund with more than $1.5 billion assets under management, the Los Angeles Times reported. The deal comes under the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s program that allows players to accept payments for endorsements based on the use of their name, image or likeness–a category of marketing often referred to as NIL.

Hawkins partners say they plan to show the star quarterback the ropes of the real estate world – with a chance of partnering on future investment opportunities.

For Williams, 19, it sets the stage for future real estate business ventures. “I’m excited about the opportunity to get some experiential learning in a valuable component of business,” Williams said in a statement.

For Hawkins Way, it’s an opportunity to partner with a potential Heisman Trophy candidate, which could prove valuable in its own right.

Ross Walker, co-founder and managing partner at Hawkins Way, said he wanted to mentor the USC quarterback, whom he was introduced to even before Williams’ freshman season at Oklahoma.

“We’re taking a bet with Caleb and hopefully he crushes it and a lot of good can come from that,” Walker told the Times. “But we legitimately want him to learn and to provide him opportunities … It’s really an investment in this kid.”

Hawkins Way did not disclose terms of that investment.

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The Williams’ deal includes annual compensation for the quarterback, who’s considered a top prospect nationwide and expected to remain at USC for the next two seasons under newly hired coach Lincoln Riley.

Until then, Hawkins Way aims to open doors for Williams, setting him up for real estate business opportunities off the field. The partnership may be a first of its kind in college sports.

Lew Wolff, a fellow partner at Hawkins Way and chairman emeritus of the Oakland Athletics, funded the partnership with Williams “for mentorship purposes,” he said.

The longtime real estate developer was introduced to Williams and his father, Carl, last August. Wolff was immediately impressed by the young quarterback and his demeanor.

“Hopefully he will come out of this as [Tom] Brady or somebody like that,” Wolff said. “I want Caleb, when he has time, to learn and have a business when he leaves sports.

“But hopefully that’ll be a long time from now.”

[LAT] – Dana Bartholomew

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