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Alabama Basketball Inks NIL Partnership with Smith & Wesson
TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - In a move that has surprised many across the college basketball world, the University of Alabama basketball program announced a new partnership with the firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson over the weekend.
Under the terms of the deal, Alabama basketball players will be endorsing and open-carrying Smith & Wesson products as part of their Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rights.
According to sources, the agreement includes a generous financial package for the Alabama basketball program with additional bonuses if any Smith & Wesson products are used on campus.
In addition, players will be outfitted with holsters and gun cases, for use during games, practices, or “hanging out with your teammates in the parking lot.”
"A couple of our guys have recently taken an interest in firearms, and as I said earlier this week, we can’t control everything everybody does outside of practice. What we can do is continue to provide tremendous NIL opportunities to every player on the team, whether they’re a potential NBA lottery pick or walk-on,” head coach Nate Oats said. “This will provide our student-athletes a chance to make money and promote a product that aligns with the core values of Alabama. It’s a program win.”
Critics of the deal have voiced concerns about the association between a university and a company that produces firearms, especially given the ongoing debate over gun control in the United States. However, Alabama officials have defended the agreement, noting that it was “strictly a business decision.”
"We don't take political stances here at Alabama, nor condone any form of ‘woke’ idealogy," said university president Stuart Bell. "We believe in an individual’s rights, including the Second Amendment, which is why we are providing our student-athletes opportunities to maximize their earnings potential in any way they choose, even if that means allowing them to carry a loaded firearm inside or near our basketball facilities."
As part of the partnership, Smith & Wesson has already begun production on a line of limited edition Crimson Tide-themed firearms, including a custom-designed revolver with the Alabama “A” logo emblazoned on the handle.
The manufacturer took to Twitter to announce the deal.
While it remains to be seen how fans and alumni will respond to the new merchandise, Alabama officials are confident that the partnership will be a “major victory” for everyone involved.
“I have yet to think of a single person that could be hurt by this decision [to officially endorse a firearm manufacturer] outside of the basketball program,” Bell added. “This isn’t something like a marijuana company or a strip club we’re doing business with here, we have standards to adhere to.”
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