West Virginia University announced over the weekend it’s become the latest higher education institution to cash in on the non-fungible token craze.
In a Tweet on Saturday, the university announced that it’s joining NFTU, a digital marketplace that facilitates trading of sports-themed digital tokens. NFTU, which markets itself as a way for collegiate athletes and institutions to generate revenue from their names, images and likeness, adds West Virginia University to a list of more than 50 institutions where basketball players have already added digital sports cards to the platform.
Nikki Goodenow, West Virginia University’s director of brand and trademark licensing, said in a video posted to Twitter that users can purchase the school’s NFTs in “packs.”
“Just like going into the store and buying an old-school pack of baseball or football cards, you’re going to go online and open a pack and it’ll be a surprise in there as to which athletes that you have purchased,” she said.
The platform, which accepts payments via Apple Pay, cryptocurrency or credit card, appears already to be generating interest among NFT fans. Recur, NFTU’s parent company, announced Wednesday that its first collection of digital memorabilia — nearly 20,000 packs — sold out “in seconds.” As with other NFTs, those sold by NFTU are marketed as unique digital collectibles to be held as assets or for fun.
“The relationship presents a win-win: fans are able to truly own and be a part of their favorite team on an interoperable and chain-agnostic platform, while the players themselves are able to generate revenue in entirely new ways that will be sustainable over time,” a press release reads.
NCAA athletes have traditionally not been paid by their institutions, nor have they been eligible to profit from sponsorship or merchandising deals, but a rule change last summer now has college athletes appearing on billboards and developing custom merchandise. NFTU tokens afford a similar opportunity to athletes (as well as their schools).
Similar to many physical collectible trading cards, NFTU’s tokens are available in four rarities: common, premium, rare and ultra rare. Each animated NFT features an animated image of the player, along with their position, personal stats, jersey number, as well as music and sound effects. The platform, which currently only features basketball, announced Wednesday that it will soon add other sports, starting with football.