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Dunkin’ signs its first college athletes to endorsement deals

North Carolina's Deja Kelly (25) looked to pass during an NCAA basketball game on Thursday, Jan.21, 2022, in Chapel Hill, N.C.Ben McKeown/Associated Press

Dunkin’ is signing its first college athletes to endorsement deals as the scramble for NCAA players spreads.

Deja Kelly, a sophomore who plays women’s basketball at the University of North Carolina, and Matthew Boling, a sprinter and long jumper at the University of Georgia, will debut on Dunkin’s roster. As part of the arrangement, they’ll promote the coffee and doughnut brand on social channels and have their own co-branded meals in their college towns. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

Brands are flocking to college sports after the NCAA changed its policy last summer to allow student-athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness. Consumer businesses ranging from Kool-Aid drinks to Degree deodorant have gotten involved.


Several of the most prolific sports sponsors took their time surveying the college landscape before jumping in. Gatorade, the sports drink owned by PepsiCo, signed University of Connecticut women’s basketball star Paige Bueckers to a multiyear deal in November, and Nike brought on Reilyn Turner from the University of California at Los Angeles women’s soccer team in December.

Dunkin’, a unit of closely held Inspire Brands Inc., has been active in sports as well, signing deals in recent years with the likes of the NFL’s Saquon Barkley and the NHL. The company said it plans to add more college athletes throughout the year.

Both Kelly and Boling are represented by major talent agencies, which have entered the fray by adding NIL operations to court collegiate athletes. Kelly is a client of Endeavor Group Holdings Inc.’s WME, while Boling joined Excel Sports Management.