In a move that amplifies their commitment to talent development and embraces the evolving landscape of collegiate sports, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), a subsidiary of TKO Group Holdings (NYSE: TKO), proudly unveiled its latest group of recruits to the widely acclaimed Name, Image & Likeness (NIL) program – “Next In Line™”. This initiative serves as a beacon, guiding standout college athletes towards the thrilling world of WWE.
Marking the two-year anniversary of its inception, WWE’s NIL program proudly welcomes 14 stellar athletes, including luminaries such as Lucas Davison, a two-time All-American wrestler hailing from the University of Michigan, and former Big 12 Champion Stephen Buchanan from the University of Oklahoma. Notably, this cohort boasts diversity, featuring the first acrobatics athlete in Bayley Humphrey from Baylor University, the program’s pioneer baseball player Adam Berghorst representing Indiana State, and the groundbreaking male cheerleader, Slane Glover from Ohio State.
Spanning 14 different universities across ten NCAA conferences, the fourth “Next In Line” class comprises a dynamic roster of talent representing various sports, from track & field and football to gymnastics and wrestling. These athletes, each bringing their unique skill sets, dimensions, and hometown pride, epitomize the rich tapestry of collegiate sports in the United States.
This latest signing marks a cumulative 60 college athletes joining WWE’s ranks since the program’s launch in December 2021. Impressively, seven of these athletes have ascended to full-time developmental contracts, dedicating themselves to year-round training at the esteemed WWE Performance Center in Orlando.
More than just a recruitment drive, the “Next In Line” program epitomizes WWE’s holistic approach to nurturing future Superstars. Collaborating with athletes from diverse athletic backgrounds, the program aims not only to recruit but to cultivate talent. Notably, the roster includes athletes from 15 different sports, encompassing 42 members of Power-Five conferences. Their collective achievements amount to 18 NCAA Championships, 34 Conference Championships, and a staggering 55 All-American honors, a testament to their exceptional caliber.
The program goes beyond the wrestling ring, offering athletes access to the state-of-the-art WWE Performance Center in Orlando and an array of resources within the organization. From brand building and media training to live event promotion, creative writing, and community relations, the program equips these future stars with a comprehensive toolkit to thrive in the entertainment industry.
An exclusive opportunity beckons upon completion of the NIL program: the chance to secure a coveted WWE contract, a testament to the program’s transformative potential in catapulting budding talents into the limelight of professional wrestling.
These athletes’ magnetic presence extends beyond the mat and track, commanding a substantial social media following with over 12 million combined followers on TikTok and nearly five million on Instagram. WWE itself boasts one of the largest fan bases on TikTok, tallying more than 25 million followers, coupled with an impressive 30 million on Instagram, setting the stage for an electrifying synergy between these emerging stars and the WWE universe.
As WWE continues to scout, nurture, and empower the next generation of entertainment icons, the “Next In Line” program stands as a testament to their commitment to innovation and excellence in talent development, promising an exhilarating future where sports and entertainment converge in a spectacle of athleticism and showmanship.