Trinity Thomas one of first NCAA athletes to get offer after new NIL policy approved

ROB ROSE
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Florida's Trinity Thomas competes on the balance beam during a gymnastics meet at Penn State in State College, Saturday, March 7, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

A new era of college athletics began Thursday and Trinity Thomas is one of the first athletes who may get the chance to enjoy the change.

The former West York High School athlete is among the initial wave of NCAA student-athletes who have received an offer to profit off their name, image and likeness (NIL) after the NCAA changed its rules regarding endorsements and compensation following a loss in the Supreme Court earlier this month.

Thomas will be a senior gymnast at the University of Florida in the fall.

Florida's Trinity Thomas, center, a former West York athlete, is surrounded by family and fans following a gymnastics meet at Penn State in State College, Saturday, March 7, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

In addition to three other athletes at universities in Florida, Thomas has been offered a partnership with Milner Technologies, a Georgia-based company that also operates in Florida, according to several reports. The deal would split up $10,000 among the four female athletes. According to Tom McMahon, the president and general manager of Milner’s Florida operations, making the offer to female athletes was important to him.

“My daughter was a gymnast and cheerleader, my nieces played sports, so I have a soft spot for women’s athletics; and it was upsetting to see the disparities in the differences in facilities for the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournaments,” McMahon told the Miami Herald. “I thought it would be nice to do something to help promote these athletes, and from a business angle I’d be hiring good role models to engage with our clients and their families and also to partner with us and the local YMCAs to do clinics for kids.”

McMahon added that if the partnership is profitable, Milner will increase its commitment. The company has coordinated the deal through IconSource, a digital marketplace where agents, athletes and brands can come together.

The NIL rule has been adopted on an interim basis by the NCAA until a formal plan has been finalized. The main details in the rule include that  scholastic athletes would not lose NCAA eligibility by earning endorsements and that students can enter agreements with boosters as long as it does not include a pay-for-play deal.

Multiple states passed laws that allow for NCAA athletes to profit off the new NIL policy, including Florida.

Pennsylvania joined that list on Wednesday when it added an article in the state budget bill that was passed granting NIL rights to student-athletes.

Thomas was expected to make a run at the U.S. Olympic berth this summer before injuries to both of her ankles derailed those plans. On May 19, she announced on Twitter that she would not pursue an Olympic berth and end her elite gymnastics career, but that she would still compete for the Gators in 2022.

A little later, Thomas softened her stance about retiring from elite gymnastics, saying she may try for a 2024 Olympic berth in Paris.

For now, however, Thomas said she is focusing on her senior season at Florida.

Last season, Thomas was arguably the best college gymnast in the nation, earning five 2021 Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association All-America honors. She received first-team honors in the all-around, vault, uneven bars and floor events, and was a second-team honoree for the balance beam. She was the only NCAA gymnast to earn the maximum five All-America honors. She had four perfect 10.0 scores during the season and was the No. 1-ranked all-around gymnast in NCAA Division I.

Her ankle injuries, however, prevented her from competing for an NCAA title.

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.