Aug 25, 2023 - Sports

SDSU's novel NIL deal

Lamont Butler sends SDSU to the national championship

Lamont Butler's buzzer beater sends San Diego State to the national championship on April 1. Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

San Diego State basketball players are about to become the face of an anti-fentanyl campaign, and they're going to get paid to do it.

Driving the news: The Department of Justice announced this week a partnership with SDSU basketball believed to be the first of its kind: A deal under the NCAA's new "name, image and likeness" policy in which athletes will make money to deliver a public service announcement.

  • The San Diego city attorney's office and nonprofit group Mentoring and Empowering Student athletes are also part of the deal.

Why it matters: Years of debate over paying student athletes centered on the corrupting influence of money on amateur sports — and now players will be paid by government agencies to issue public health messaging.

Between the lines: SDSU's basketball stars featured in the first PSAs of the partnership, listed by name, warn against fentanyl use.

  • "Fentanyl kills, creates chaos, ruins families," said Lamont Butler, whose buzzer beater against Florida Atlantic in April's Final Four sent the Aztecs to the national championship. "It doesn't care about your race. It doesn't care how you identify."

State of play: In June, San Diego County started distributing fentanyl test strips via harm reduction agencies and public health centers through its Naloxone Distribution Program.

  • Naloxone is an injectable or nasal spray medication used to reverse an opioid overdose, including heroin, fentanyl and prescription opioid medications.
  • Free test strips are also now available at 12 naloxone vending machines downtown and throughout the region. People must use a QR code to complete a training to receive them.

Kate's thought bubble: I saw a cool collaborative PSA while traveling in Cincinnati, Ohio this summer. A downtown brewery, bar and event space provided bins with free fentanyl test strips in bathrooms throughout the venue. The business partnered with the county public health department to encourage people to test their street drugs and provide resources for harm reduction.

A clear bin attached to a wall provides free fentanyl test strips and a QR code with harm reduction resources.
Madtree Alcove in Cincinnati provides free fentanyl test strips and harm reduction resources in its bathrooms. Photo: Kate Murphy/Axios
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