What's Brewing? FAU Men's Basketball Inks First Of Its Kind NIL Deal

The unique partnership with a coffee roaster rewards every player

FAU bball NIL coffee mobile
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“Here’s Boyd… 5 seconds left. Boyd drives, SCORES! With 2.5, Lomax at mid-court, doesn’t get it off! And the Owls win it!”

Let's Run It Back!

FAU Johnell Davis
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The 2023-24 FAU Owls are off to an incredible start. They are currently 11-3, ranked 17th in the nation, have already defeated top-25 teams Arizona (#4) and Texas A&M (#12), and appear to be headed back to the Big Dance for just the second time in school history.

All of this winning has been great for the University as a whole, as there has been quite a bit of extra attention on the “Beach Boys.” And with that extra attention, in this modern landscape of NIL deals, comes some amazing opportunities off the court. 

For instance, once they advanced to the Final Four, the Owls signed a $50,000 NIL deal with Jim 'Mattress Mack' McIngvale, with the money helping players’ family members travel to Houston to watch them play live. 

Alijah Martin, Johnell Davis and the aforementioned Nick Boyd, who made the winning shot in FAU’s Tourney opener, also signed an NIL deal in the offseason with, lead sponsors of the annual Boca Raton Bowl, which feature the Owls’ three stars in television commercials. 

While it should come as no surprise that individual athletes have started to partner with companies, one particular NIL deal has opened some eyes because of its unique arrangement, which appears to be the first of its kind in college sports. 

Heating Up Paradise!

FAU Beach Blend Coffee
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

The entire FAU men’s basketball team has partnered with Winchell Mountain Coffee Roasters to commemorate their historic 2022-23 tournament run, launching three different kinds of coffee including “Beach Blend” (Light Roast), “Back in Paradise” (Medium Roast) and “Heating Up Paradise” (Dark Roast), with the bags featuring the tagline “BY THE PLAYERS, FOR THE PLAYERS” on the front as well as the entire team’s roster on the back. 

The idea for this partnership actually began shortly after the Owls won their conference tournament before they went on their Final Four run. In the days leading up to Selection Sunday, FAU Athletic Director Brian White and Winchell Mountain President Allen Ricca hopped on a phone call and discussed ways to capture the excitement of March Madness, using a coffee bag as the canvas. While they didn’t have enough time to pull off the design and get it to market, the seed was planted. 

Ricca credits the culture that head coach Dusty May has created, and the character of the players to want to do a team-wide deal. 

“When Bronny James gets a bag, how does the guy at the end of the bench not get sour?” Ricca notes. “We thought of how cool it would be if the big name athletes dropped the bag in the locker room and split it with the team. How great would that be for locker room culture? It’s a smart approach. Dusty May’s culture-setting mentality is likely why the players were all in on this project. In the modern-day landscape of the transfer portal, it’s amazing that the entire team is back for another year to grind and buy in.”

It's not just the transfer portal that makes it so difficult to return nearly an entire roster from a Final Four run like the Owls went on. lists Johnell Davis as the 22nd ranked shooting guard in the nation and projects him as a possible 2nd round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. also lists Alijah Martin as a possible second round draft pick. Both players had multiple workouts with NBA teams in the offseason before withdrawing their names from the draft to return to FAU.

“When Bronny James gets a bag, how does the guy at the end of the bench not get sour?”

- Allen Ricca, Winchell Mountain Coffee President

What makes this particular NIL deal so special is that every player on the team is an equal partner. Typically, companies opt to partner with only star athletes. But with every bag sold of this new coffee, the last player at the end of the FAU bench is rewarded the same as more familiar names like Martin, Davis and Boyd. 

“We had a cool opportunity. The coffee business reached out to the university and said they wanted to get into some business with us and we jumped on it right away,” Boyd tells us after the Owls early January home win over East Carolina. “We were very excited, just for the whole team to have an opportunity to make money off NIL. Thank God for the run we had, it opened up a bunch of doors and Winchell Mountain Coffee gave us an opportunity. It’s been easy to work with them and it’s been fun learning the business ins and outs.”

While many companies would simply slap an image of a player on a product and go to market, it was important to Winchell Mountain to include the team in the development of the coffee from start to finish. After all, they are college students and besides making some money, the true value may very well be in overall experience. 

“We were all in on designing the coffee to how we wanted it to be in terms of the bags, how we wanted it to taste and the type of vibe we wanted it to give off.” Boyd says. “That was the fun part about it. The ins and outs of learning the business and how to put a product together, I definitely took some tips and notes in that aspect. It was fun just learning.”

While the team doesn’t drink much of the coffee (yet) because as athletes they try to stay away from caffeine, Boyd did say that he tasted it during the process, enjoyed it and will likely be drinking it as he “gets a little bit older and the days get longer.”

Where Can You Purchase It?

FAU Coffee Winchell Mountain
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Winchell Mountain is currently doing the heavy lifting on all of the marketing, working on building a wholesale presence in the vicinity of FAU. They hope to get the product in bookstores and on campus. You can currently purchase it on their website. In the first month, they have already sold a few hundred bags. 

They also hope to partner with coffee shops close to FAU’s campus. The first to jump aboard, VI Coffee Bar, will be featuring a red and blue latte throughout the month of January and picking up the entire line of coffees, including one featuring the FAU women’s volleyball team.  

In the meantime, FAU still has some serious business to take care of on the court. Before leaving Eleanor Baldwin Arena for the night, we asked if we can expect to see the Owls back in the Final Four this year. 

“I hope so,” he says. “We’re taking it day by day, working in practice every single day. We’re just gonna keep grinding. Keep chopping wood. It’s gonna be fun.”

We wouldn’t bet against them. 

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