FedEx Commits $25 Million to Memphis NIL in Corporate First

In a corporate first for FedEx, the company says it will spend $25 million over the next five years on University of Memphis athlete name, image and likeness efforts. FedEx, which generates $90 billion in annual revenue, will direct $5 million annually primarily to support initiatives with football, men’s and women’s basketball and other women’s sports. The effort launches Saturday with the Tigers’ spring football game.

“Our plan is to select athletes that best align to the initiative we’re promoting,” FedEx executive Brian Philips said in an email. “Whether we’re promoting picture proof of delivery on social media or having athletes participate in in-person FedEx Cares events, we’ll assess each initiative and select rostered student-athletes that best align to the opportunity at hand,” he added. Philips is the executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for FedEx Corp.

More from

Similarly, Mat Ishbia’s United Wholesale Mortgage engineered an NIL deal with Michigan State’s football team, men’s and women’s basketball teams and women’s volleyball team. The deal was terminated in 2023 when Ishbia bought the Phoenix Suns and Mercury.

FedEx is based in Memphis and has a long relationship with the university, co-creating the FedEx Institute of Technology on campus as well as a degree program for FedEx employees. Billionaire chairman Fred Smith has also been a high-profile booster of the Tigers, once offering to host the Big 12 title game if Memphis were admitted as a member (the school competes in the American Athletic Conference) and, last fall, donating $50 million from his personal foundation toward the renovation of the school’s football stadium. The publicly traded company also sponsors the baseball team’s facility, FedExPark and FedEx Forum, the city’s arena where the Memphis Grizzlies and the school’s basketball teams play.

The NIL program at Memphis comes as the NCAA this week approved schools directly assisting in NIL opportunities for their athletes, provided the athletes report earnings of $600 or more to the school.

At Memphis, FedEx says expanding the popularity of women’s sports nationally is one of its goals. Besides basketball, other women’s sports that will be eligible for the NIL funding include soccer and volleyball, among others to be determined, according to Philips. NIL consultancy Altius Sports Partners is assisting FedEx in the Memphis effort.

(This story has been corrected to reflect that United Wholesale Mortgage previously had an NIL deal with various Michigan State athletic teams.)

Best of