The NCAA name, image, and likeness policy change went into affect on Thursday allowing student athletes to profit for things such as sponsorship deals, autographs, online endorsements, and personal appearances.
For Mililani graduate, UCF junior quarterback Dillon Gabriel, the suspending of NCAA rules prohibiting personal money making ventures provided an opportunity at entrepreneurship.
The semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award and the Maxwell Award in 2020 has launched the ‘DG’ lifestyle and athletic apparel brand with products available to be seen currently with online shopping starting on July 4.
“I’m super grateful, thankful that the NCAA passed this rule and let college athletes get paid, but most importantly just thankful and grateful for everything. This is something the DG teams has been working for and we’re just glad we could make it happen,” Gabriel told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello on Thursday. “This is obviously historic and groundbreaking and being able to be the first to do it, I’m super grateful and I applaud all the people who have crawled for us so we could walk and I want to just congratulate them and thank them for letting us have this opportunity today.”
The NIL policy change has not only provided an opportunity for Gabriel to enter the business world along with his brother and other partners but also be involved in one of his passions off the field, which is art, pop culture and creative design.
“I love being creative and being able to design. My brother has been very helpful with that as well as the others on the DG team so with that being said, we’ve been able to create some fun and unique things that I’ll be able to present to a lot of fans all over the place. We’re excited for it and we’re learning. This is definitely unchartered territory for everyone but this is exciting and it’s a new age of college football.”
Not lost on Gabriel is the time that it takes to successfully run a business, so along side his brother Garrison and business partner Steve Smith, football can remain a focus for the junior.
“That’s the biggest question for a lot of athletes. For me, having my brother and having Steve Smith controlling all that, it lets me focus on what I’m passionate about and what I love, and that’s football. When I have that I kind of push it away and let them control all that and let them take advantage of a great opportunity and likewise for me, I get to continue to play the sport I love and try and go win a championship. I think I’ve been able to balance that pretty well and of course I have my parents involved so that’s been something that has been very helpful as well.”
An important part of the DG Brand according to Gabriel is community outreach as the company intends to not only host events in the future that will serve as charitable efforts for his current residence of Orland and his home state of Hawaii, but also create opportunities for the next generation of football players.
“DG the brand stands for dedicated to greatness. That’s something that continues to inspire me, drive me and something I love by. So I hope to encourage others to be dedicated to greatness in whatever they want to be great at and that’s the biggest message we try to portray,” said Gabriel. “The biggest thing for us was community outreach. How can we give to the communities that have given to me,” said Gabriel. “We partnered with my home school Mililani High School so they’ll be wearing some DG workout stuff and as well as Moanalua so I’m excited for that and you’ll definitely be seeing the DG logo and also we’ll also be dropping a lot more clothing.”
With 7,223 career passing yards which ranks sixth all-time at UCF, Gabriel enters the 2021 season confident that the Knights can once again return to national prominence following a pandemic shortened campaign where he went 248-of-413 for 3,570 passing yards with 32 passing touchdowns and just four interceptions.
Gabriel and his Knights will open the 2021 season on Thursday September 2 against Boise State in Orlando.