FedEx, Memphis enter $25M NIL partnership

FedEx is entering into a five-year, $25 million name, image and likeness commitment that will benefit student-athletes at Memphis, particularly in the Tigers’ football and men’s and women’s basketball programs, as well as additional women’s sports.

The shipping giant, which launched its operations in Memphis in 1973, has annual revenues of $88 billion.

As part of the initiative, Memphis athletes receiving NIL funding will participate in FedEx initiatives via social media and in person around the city. The company supports events that include the FedEx/St. Jude Championships, the Southern Heritage Classic and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, all in Memphis.

“We evaluated the evolving NIL landscape, exploring how we can best deliver positive impact to student-athletes and connect them to meaningful opportunities for both themselves and the community and made the decision to reallocate marketing funds to an NIL platform,” said Brian Philips, the executive vice president and chief marketing officer at FedEx, in a news release. “This gives us an opportunity to invest in bright, young athletes in our great hometown of Memphis, strengthening our connection to the next generation of leaders.”

The program was announced Friday via a social media video that featured both FedEx employees and Memphis athletes.

The first FedEx in-person NIL initiative will be a tailgate event at Memphis’ spring football game, featuring the women’s soccer team.

Athletic director Laird Veatch told 929 ESPN radio in Memphis on Friday that the contribution includes a clause stipulating a 50 percent match and that the university will launch a campaign to raise $2.5 million per year.

Veatch acknowledged the boost the FedEx partnership will give to his department.

“It does elevate us to a highly competitive NIL space, and it’s something that’s sustainable at the same time,” Veatch said. “If you ask many athletic directors around the country, I don’t know that they’d be in a position to say that.”

This is not the first partnership between the company and school. The campus has a degree program for FedEx employees and also boasts the FedEx Institute of Technology. Company CEO Fred Smith agreed to donate $50 million from his personal foundation for renovations for the Tigers’ football stadium.