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College basketball star Luka Garza is latest athlete to sell an NFT

Luka Garza #55 of the Iowa Hawkeyes drives past Asbjørn Midtgaard #33 of the Grand Canyon Lopes in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Division I Mens Basketball Tournament held at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on March 20, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Trevor Brown Jr | NCAA Photos | Getty Images

In addition to ownership of the digital token, which features multiple pictures of Garza, the highest bidder on his NFT will get autographed shoes from the game where he set the program record for most points in a career.

The NFT buyer also will be able to play a game of HORSE against Garza, as well as go to dinner and a meditation session with him. He said he leaned on meditation during his accomplished Iowa career.

“I think that was something cool for … whoever were to win the NFT, to be able to see what gets me locked in, what gets me to be able to succeed at the highest level,” Garza said, suggesting the experiential aspect of his digital collectible sets it apart from being just another “image or piece of art.”

Portions of the sale will be donated to the University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital, so “it’s for a good cause, as well,” Garza said.

Garza’s announcement comes not long after his four-season college career reached its conclusion in the second round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. It means he’s now free to accept compensation related to his athletic success without violating NCAA rules and jeopardizing eligibility.

There’s been a considerable push in recent years to allow NCAA athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness, known as NIL. The NCAA delayed a vote on compensation rules earlier this year. However, a few states have already passed their own NIL legislation, and some proposals have been introduced at the federal level.

The U.S. Supreme Court also recently heard a case regarding education-related compensation for NCAA athletes.

Garza, an economics major, said he was grateful for the NCAA and the opportunity to have a scholarship to pursue basketball and education concurrently. Nevertheless, he complimented those who are pushing for expanding NIL rights, such as his Iowa teammate Jordan Bohannon.

“I stand with the changing times, and I think … this is something that could pave the way maybe for college athletes in the future to be able to do this and make money off their name, image and likeness through something like an NFT,” Garza told CNBC.

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